A New Brunswick man, who says he wasn’t told about warning signs of his rare condition until six weeks after a doctor noted them, believes he fell through the cracks in the province’s overwhelmed health-care system.
“I had to trust the medical system, which we all trust,” said Jean-Claude Belliveau of Memramcook.
Belliveau sometimes gets foot ulcers, which are sores on his feet linked to his Type 2 diabetes.
In November 2023, a nurse doing a routine check-up of his feet told him he had an infection.
He was admitted to the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Hospital’s trauma department in Moncton, and had to have a toe amputated due to a flesh-eating bacteria infection.
Shortly before Christmas, he says his family doctor told him his foot had another infection, and urged him to go back to the same hospital.
His foot was X-rayed and he wasn’t given any news after his discharge.
Belliveau attended various follow-up appointments through January, and had another X-ray in late January.
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On Feb. 1, he said a doctor called him with the results of that X-ray and told him he had a rare condition called Charcot foot.
Charcot foot is a rare complication of diabetes that can cause weakening of the bones.
“My bones are shattering, meaning they’re just shattering,” said Belliveau.
“That’s why I’m wearing a cast, because they have to immobilize my foot. So I have absolutely no movement.”
He says he was told it was imperative not to put any pressure on his foot or he could need to amputate everything below his knee.
After hearing the diagnosis, Belliveau decided to look up his own medical records on MyHealthNB to see the results of the December 2023 X-ray.
“I went back into my (file) and looked up the records on this on Dec. 21 that said, there are signs of fractures on his second and third toe,” he explained.
Belliveau doesn’t understand why no one informed him of this before his February follow-up.
“I think that’s the scariest thing — that we have to look out for our own health care,” he said.
“Six weeks is a long time to wait for X-ray results. Had I known sometime in December I wouldn’t have put any weight on my foot. What was the damage between Dec. 23 and Feb. 1 — I don’t know.”
His girlfriend, Jessica Ruest, says the whole experience has been stressful for the couple.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen. And you think that health care would be more helping … but it seems like we need to search for the answer ourselves to know what to do. And it’s very stressful,” she said.
Belliveau says he’s unsure what his next step will be, but is calling for change after such an important health indicator was missed.
In a statement to Global News, Vitalité Health Network said it could not comment directly on specific patient-related situations.
“All complaints are taken seriously as they may provide us with an opportunity to improve our services and processes. They undergo analysis and are followed up with the concerned patient or their relatives,” the statement read in part.
“We are committed to providing safe, quality care and services to all New Brunswickers.”
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