Man with knife blade in his back sues Canadian hospital.


The knife was finally removed from McNeely three years after he was attacked. (Photo from CBC)

Billy McNeely was stabbed in the back and neck in 2010. He recieved treatment at the Fort Good Hope Medical Center, Northwest Territories, Canada. They cleaned and stitched him up, gave him pain medcation and antibiotics, and sent him home.

He sought further care, returning to the center 3 times over subsequent weeks, complaining of pain in his back. More meds, and again he was sent home. Two years later, he again visited doctors for pain in his back. He was given meds and prescribed a course of physical therapy.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Doctors discovered 8cm of knife blade still stuck McNeely’s back.

From the CBC:

“In March 2013, McNeely felt the pointed edge of something under his skin while rubbing his back. He went to the hospital and it was discovered that the eight-centimetre blade was still in his back. It was removed shortly thereafter.

McNeely says both the Sahtu Health Authority and the Stanton Territorial Health Authority failed to employ competent doctors and nurses. He says both authorities and some of their medical staff were negligent for not finding the blade in his back when he first arrived at the Fort Good Hope Health Centre and for his subsequent visits to the hospital.

The Hospital and Doctors are fighting back:

“The first doctor involved in the case, Dr. Peter Boronowski, says that on the night McNeely was stabbed, he wasn’t even in Fort Good Hope. He says he was working at the hospital in Inuvik and was phoned by the nurse in Fort Good Hope asking for advice.

He says he never physically assessed McNeely, and advised the nurse on how to treat him based on what he was told, and suggested a prescription for Tylenol 3 for pain.

Another physician, Dr. Charles MacNeil, argues the same point. He says he was telephoned by the nurse a few days after the stabbing for advice, and approved a prescription for oral antibiotics.

The two doctors McNeely saw in Yellowknife, Dr. Margaret Anne Woodside and Dr. Luella Smith, say when they examined him in July 2010 and February 2012, respectively, the wound had healed and that he had good range of motion in his arm.

The physicians argue McNeely received “competent medical care which met, or exceeded, the standard of care required of reasonably competent physicians in the circumstances.”

It is beyond the scope of this blog to debate the finer points of Single-payer Health Care. It blows my mind however, that over the course of 3 years, no one thought to give McNeely a simple X-ray.



  1. Sam L. says:

    X-ray was my first thought.

  2. ChuckN says:

    “It blows my mind however, that over the course of 3 years,
    no one thought to give McNeely a simple X-ray.”

    That’s because here in the US we really haven’t experienced
    full scale single payer health care… yet.

  3. VaqueroJustice says:

    If they’d given him an mri, that might have removed the blade right
    then and there. Problem solved. 😉

    1. ouch.

      I had to have my eyes xrayed before my last MRI to be sure I didn’t have any metal filings since I work with metal from time to time.

      I would not want to witness what would happen if something that big got ripped out of someone onto the magnet.

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Man with knife blade in his back sues Canadian hospital.

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