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Medical clinic failed to warn woman of test results before fatal cancer diagnosis, suit alleges

The clinic had a duty to warn her of the test results and arrange for more care, the lawsuit from the province alleges.
BC Supreme Court Vancouver
The province has filed a civil suit against the operators of a former North Vancouver medical clinic.

The province is suing the operators of a former North Vancouver medical clinic, alleging they failed to warn a patient of irregular Pap test results, which they say was a contributing factor in her death at the age of 33 from cancer.

According to the civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Katheryn Byer was a patient at the Lower Lonsdale Medical Clinic. In February 2016, she came for a routine Pap test, and the specimen was sent to the BC Cancer Agency for analysis. The following month, the agency reported back that Byer’s results showed "atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance," along with a recommendation for Byer to have another test in six months’ time.

The defendants had a duty to inform Byer of the results as well the BC Cancer Agency’s recommendation for another test, the claim states, and to arrange for further care.

But the clinic closed at the end of 2017, “leaving Byer without a family doctor,” the legal documents note.

“It is claimed that K. Byer was unaware of their abnormal 2016 Pap test results and was unaware of the BC Cancer Agency recommendations regarding the need for repeat testing,” the suit asserts.  “As a result of the failure of the defendants, singly or together, to inform K. Byer about their medical condition and the BC Cancer Agency recommendations, between 2016 and 2019, K. Byer's medical condition worsened, and they developed cervical cancer, illness and injury and died on Oct. 19, 2021.”

The suit names the doctors and medical office assistants working in the clinic at the time. None of the province’s allegations have been heard in court or proven.

By failing to inform Byer, monitor her condition and arrange for followup care and testing, the province alleges the clinic’s staff breached the standard of care required by law. That breach and negligence either caused or contributed to Byer’s physical and psychological suffering, losses, expenses and death, the province alleges.

The civil claim is filed by a lawyer working with the Ministry of Health’s legal division. In the suit, the province is only asking the courts to order the defendants to pay back the cost of Byer’s care after she became sick, which is a legal option available under B.C.’s Health Care Costs Recovery Act.

Byer was a single mom to a five-year-old daughter at the time she passed away. At the height of her illness, Byer’s plight was covered by the local newspaper in Maple Ridge, where she lived. Community members rallied to raise money for her as she was going through chemotherapy. After her death, a GoFundMe set up by an aunt raised more than $28,000 to be held in trust for her daughter.

“Kathryn was an amazing woman whose one big goal in life was to be a mother. She always loved kids and devoted her personal and professional life to them," the GoFundMe statement read.