The Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest Report



Craig's meeting with the anaesthetists

Dr. Doug Craig, the head of anaesthesia, met with the pediatric cardiac anaesthetists on either September 8 or 9. Dr. Ann McNeill testified that he wanted reassurances from them that, since the program would be returning to full service, the pediatric cardiac anaesthetists would be full participants in the program. At the time of that meeting, Craig was not aware that they had individually met with Dr. Suzanne Ullyot and had agreed to work in the program when it returned to full service. According to McNeill:

During the discussion he said something to the effect that if we were in the United States, we would be looking for jobs, or we would be out of jobs, or we might not have jobs, something like that. (Evidence, page 13,346)

Dr. Harley Wong felt intimidated by Craig's comments as to what would have happened "if they had been in the United States." Because Wong had already decided to participate fully in the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Program once it returned to full operation, Craig's comments did not have an impact on his decision to participate. However, he indicated that the comment had a chilling effect on his view about the support that the hospital was prepared to give to the anaesthetists in the future, if they once more withdrew services.

Craig testified that his statement about the United States came from his experiences on the Board of the American Anesthesia Educational Association. He said he had learned that in the United States hospitals were running "roughshod" over anaesthetic departments that were seen to be getting out of line.

The point I came back to was that if you don't sort of toe the line, there is a risk in the U.S. that you will lose your job, in a very abrupt way. In some context, I recall that I said that if you were in the United States, and I guess saying whatever they were saying and doing, whatever they were doing, that you might get fired or would get fired, if you were in the United States. So that was the context.

It was never, as I heard it, converted that if you don't do something or do something that you will get fired. I never threatened to fire them, that I am aware of. (Evidence, pages 34,537-34,538)

After Craig had made his comment, McNeill told him that the section of pediatric cardiac anaesthesia had already made the decision to participate fully when the program returned to full activity.

The nature and tone of the discussion reflected the anaesthetists' lack of support for the decision to return the program to full activity. Craig recalled that there was heat generated at the meeting, although he could not recall how the discussion became so heated.

Dr. McNeill, I know was, I guess the heat generation leader, she was the most vocal, and she was the one that called me a few days later to apologize for her tone in the meeting. And I'm not sure that was on behalf of them all or herself. Whatever it was, I accepted the apology.

Dr. Heinz Reimer was unusually vocal for himself. And that is the meeting at which he, I guess in essence blurted out at some point, you know, that for a surgeon to be effective in this kind of a program, the surgeon has to be an exceptional surgeon, I remember him saying that, and that Dr. Odim is only an average surgeon, I heard him say that. The context of that, I don't recall, but I recall him saying that. (Evidence, pages 34,535-34,536)

The anaesthetists' reluctant return to the program clearly reflects the ineffectiveness of the Wiseman Committee process in addressing their concerns. While Craig's comment about what might have happened to them if they had been in the United States might not have been intended to intimidate, it could hardly have had any other effect. It seems that the message was being conveyed that the anaesthetists had been 'catered to' and while they had had their way, this was not to happen again.

It is likely that the meeting with Craig did have an impact on the anaesthetists' willingness to speak out. Five more children died before the end of the year, and although there was still cause for concern over some of the same issues that had been raised earlier in the year, the voices of the anaesthetists were much more muted. Less than a week after the program returned to full activity, another child died.



Current Home - Table of Contents - Chapter 8 - Craig's meeting with the anaesthetists
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Previous September 7 - the return to full program
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
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