Nova Scotia Journal

Complaint filed over N.B. top physician’s handling of mystery brain disorder probe

Nova Scotia

Key takeaways: 

  • A man whose dad was initially recognized as one of 48 cases accuses Dr. Russell of ‘violated code of ethics.’
  • The complaint accuses Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, of ‘breaking the code of values.’

A Nova Scotia guy filed a complaint against New Brunswick’s top physician over her handling a mystery neurological syndrome probe.

Steve Ellis, whose dad, Roger Ellis, was initially recognized as one of the 48 confirmed cases of the mystery syndrome first made public a year ago, accuses Dr. Jennifer Russell of “disregarding the code of standards” during the probe.

He accuses Russell “did not communicate transparently,” “deceived my dad as a patient,” “withheld data that my father had a right to get,” and provided false information to families in a private meeting “started by her office and [Health] Minister Dorothy Shephard.”

Ellis also accuses that his dad was never seen in person by the oversight committee that later took over the probe. However, they later told several “possible” reasons for his symptoms.

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Teams of researchers and scientists gathered to look into the syndrome

On Thursday, the complaint was filed with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick.

Requested for comment on the complaint and its accusations on Friday, Public Health representative Bruce Macfarlane said Russell “has yet to get any correspondence linked to this type of complaint.”

Report asked mystery disease’s existence

The New Brunswick government first alerted “a different atypical neurological syndrome,” causing signs varying from muscle spasms to visual hallucinations in an internal memo dated March 5, 2021.

Teams of researchers and scientists gathered to look into the syndrome, both at the national level at Health Canada’s Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance System and the regional level, with a research team led by Moncton neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero.

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