Ontario children’s hospital halts tonsil surgeries after 2 deaths in 1 month

A children’s hospital in Hamilton says it has paused tonsil and adenoid surgical procedures after two patient deaths in the last month.

McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) says it is going through a comprehensive review of the department’s program “out of an abundance of caution” after reporting that a pair of patients died following discharge from tonsil and adenoid-related surgeries.

“One child passed away the day after their surgery, and the second child passed away nine days after their initial surgery,” Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) spokesperson Wendy Stewart said.

“We want to express our deepest condolences to these families.”

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Stewart says the first death was in May and the other in early June.

MCH can’t confirm any “apparent connection” between the two cases but as of Tuesday paused scheduled tonsil and adenoid surgical procedures for patients under the age of 18 “until a comprehensive review of the program can be completed.”

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The outlet is in the process of informing patients and families that scheduled care or surgeries will be affected, according to Stewart.

Emergent surgeries will continue and its Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) Clinic is still operating.

“We are working quickly to identify independent, external subject matter experts to support the review and are optimistic that we’ll be able to proceed shortly,” Stewart said.

“We cannot speculate on any changes as the review has not yet taken place but want to assure our community that we will implement any additional safety measures that may be required.”

Over the past year, MCH says it has performed 47 pediatric tonsil-only surgeries and 537 pediatric tonsil and adenoid-related procedures.

Only about 11 per cent of children with tonsil-only surgeries and five per cent treated for tonsils and adenoids returned to the hospital’s emergency department with issues related to bleeding, the hospital says.

More to come.

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