The Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest Report



Nurses and the Wiseman Committee

The response that McGilton received when she opposed a return to full service at the July 27 meeting gives rise to the more general question of the treatment of nurses at the Wiseman Committee.

Ullyot testified that during the first month of the committee's work Youngson raised some of her concerns about cannulation. Ullyot said Odim was critical of Youngson for raising questions about the type of cannula that Odim was using. Ullyot testified that Odim told Youngson:

That it was his decision to decide on the cannula, that it wasn't her place to say anything about it or to criticize what he had chosen. (Evidence, page 31,382)

Youngson testified that, following a meeting that she had left early, Wiseman contacted her. He told her that after she left, Odim had made a number of critical remarks about her. Wiseman said he was going to have the matter addressed at the next meeting. Wiseman testified that in his recollection Odim had been expressing his frustration with Youngson always comparing his work with Duncan's. Wiseman testified:

I felt it was important, because if something is bugging someone, and it seemed to be bothering him that this was, he was constantly being put against this standard, and he wasn't willing to come out and say it to her directly, because for whatever reason, I don't know what it was, you need some-I was thinking among the experts you need to call in here, you should call in a group psychiatrist. But, nevertheless, I felt that I had to convey that to her, because clearly he wanted to and didn't quite bring himself to do it. (Evidence, page 40,548)

At the following meeting, Wiseman asked Odim if he had any concerns with the nurses that he wished to have discussed. Odim said he had none. Youngson then said that she understood that Odim had some concerns with her specifically. Odim replied by saying that he was not happy with the efficiency of her ordering. He said that the needle driver that he had seen in Saskatoon had not yet arrived. Maas intervened, saying in summer deliveries get bogged down. According to Youngson's testimony:

At that point in time, I remember Dr. Odim turned to me and said, do you really want to do cardiac surgery, Carol? And what I wanted to say was, no, not any more, but I didn't. I said, yes, I do, I still want to participate-or he said, do you still want to participate in cardiac surgery? Because at that point in time, I was so disgusted, because it was my understanding that these meetings were, that was the reason we were having these meetings, for everybody to talk about whatever problems they were having. And I was just completely disgusted that he had waited until I left a meeting, purposely in my mind waited until I left the meeting, and then proceeded to make a personal attack on me. (Evidence, pages 8,500-8,501)

Within days of this exchange, unit manager Karin Dixon, after speaking with Youngson, met with Odim. Her intent had been to arrange a meeting between herself, Odim and Youngson. However, she came back from the meeting saying that no further meeting was necessary, since Odim said he was happy with Youngson and felt that any initial problems had been resolved.

Odim testified that he did not recall asking Youngson if she had wanted to continue working in cardiac surgery. Nor did he recall her asking if he had specific problems with her. He confirmed that the meeting with Dixon had taken place. He said that this meeting took place after he had spoken to Dixon about "disorganization in the OR vis a vis Ms. Youngson." (Evidence, page 25,240) In particular, he said, this related to Youngson's instructing other nurses during the course of the operation, a practice he found distracting. Odim said he had also spoken to Youngson about the issue, and felt that there had been an improvement in this area. He testified that since the needle driver he requested had not arrived after a period of two months, he had asked Youngson to check on the order.

When she was asked if she had raised concerns over cannulation issues in any of the cases, Youngson testified that she did not believe she had done so after the May 25 meeting.

It's very hard for me as a nurse to criticize a surgeon, especially when there are several other physicians sitting around him.

Although I did know that I had their support, I still was the only nurse at these meetings; and I just found it very difficult to sort of take a stand. What I would often do is sort of follow Ann's lead. If Ann expressed concerns about a particular case, I would back her up. That's more or less what I felt my role was at that particular time, was to sort of back her up as much as I could. (Evidence, page 8,521)

Youngson testified that after one meeting ended and both Odim and Wiseman had left, Giddins asked her what was going on in the operating rooms. Youngson said that at first she resisted answering since she would be speaking behind Odim's back. But Giddins told her that what she said would be off the record. She spoke of concerns with bleeding and cannulation and described a number of cases. Youngson testified that Giddins replied in the following manner:

Well, he said, you know, Carol, we are very lucky to have Dr. Odim, and he sort of talked about Dr. Odim's background, and he said, you know, he's not just a cardiac surgeon. He's got his Fellowship in thoracic surgery and general surgery, and I don't remember all these other fields of expertise, and very well trained. You know, he came from Boston; and, you know, this is a guy that's got-he's extremely well trained, or words to that effect. You know, he said, he's solidly backed by the Department of Surgery. They are behind him. I got the impression by that he meant the Department of Surgery and the Health Sciences Centre administration was really, you know, anxious to have things work out for Dr. Odim, that they were really backing him up. (Evidence, page 8,526)

Youngson testified that she felt that she had been warned and ought to back off. Giddins said he could not specifically recall this exchange.

Despite the team-building rhetoric that surrounded the establishment of the Wiseman Committee, the evidence suggests that the committee did not provide a forum in which nurses could comfortably state their views. This clearly had a chilling effect on what was said, thereby denying the committee access to important information.



Current Home - Table of Contents - Chapter 7 - Nurses and the Wiseman Committee
Next The issues raised by Odim
Previous The July 27 committee meeting
Section 1 Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Issues
  Chapter 2 - Pediatric Cardiac Issues
  Chapter 3 - The Diagnosis of Pediatric Heart Defects and their Surgical Treatment
  Chapter 4 - The Health Sciences Centre
Section 2 Chapter 5 - Pediatric Cardiac Surgery in Winnipeg 1950-1993
  Chapter 6 - The Restart of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery in 1994
January 1, 1994 to May 17, 1994
  Chapter 7 - The Slowdown
May 17 to September 1994
  Chapter 8 - Events Leading to the Suspension of the Program
September 7, 1994 to December 23, 1994
  Chapter 9 - 1995 - The Aftermath of the Shutdown
January to March, 1995
Section 3 Chapter 10 - Findings and Recommendations
Appendix 1 - Glossary of terms used in this report
Appendix 2 - Parties to the Proceedings and counsel
Appendix 3 - List of witnesses and dates of testimony
Table of Contents