Ex-Cité de la Santé anesthesiologist charged with manslaughter after elderly patient’s death

A former anesthesiologist at Laval’s Cité de la Santé hospital is facing a manslaughter charge related to the death of an 84-year-old man after surgery he underwent in 2019.

Cité de la Santé hospital in eastern Laval.

Dr. Isabelle Désormeau was arrested on March 30 by the Laval Police following an investigation into the circumstances of the elderly male patient’s death a few hours after Désormeau had served as the anesthesiologist during his surgery for an intestinal obstruction.

The man, whose identity is not being divulged due to a court-imposed publication ban, had gone in October 2019 to Cité de la Santé where he reported that he was suffering from stomach pain.

Diagnosed with an intestinal blockage, he was told he needed immediate surgery, which began around 2 am.

During surgery, it was discovered that a large segment of his intestines needed to be removed, but that doing so would mean his becoming dependent on a colostomy bag, and he would have to endure a long hospital stay.

As the man was under anesthesia, the surgeon contacted a next-of-kin.

Taking the man’s stated wish into consideration, that he didn’t want cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or intubation if his condition deteriorated badly, the next-of-kin told the surgeon it would be best to halt the surgery and place the man in palliative care for the few days longer he was expected to live.

According to a statement of facts compiled by the police investigating the case, the anesthesiologist told an intensive care doctor that the man had no family, and that an intensive care bed would not be needed.

It is alleged that the anesthesiologist then disconnected the man, who was still under anesthesia, from a respirator and administered a medication, which is not identified in the statement of facts as it is subject to the publication ban.

The man died 20 minutes later.

According to the statement, two nurses who had observed the anesthesiologist’s actions confronted her, but she ignored them, and a complaint was filed later that same day.

Cité de la Santé’s director of professional services contacted the police after interviewing the nurses and the anesthesiologist, who said she had administered the medication as part of palliative care, according to court documents.

Désormeau resigned from the hospital in December 2019 and has since then also ceased practicing medicine.