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New Brunswick man says he waited weeks for medical information about his rare disease

A New Brunswick man, who says he wasn’t told about the warning signs of his rare condition until six weeks after a doctor noticed them, believes he fell through the cracks of 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 has foot ulcers, which are sores on the feet related to his type 2 diabetes.

In November 2023, a nurse doing a routine checkup on his feet told him he had an infection.

He was admitted to the Dr. Georges-L hospital. Trauma department at Dumont Hospital in Moncton, and had to have a toe amputated due to a flesh-eating bacteria infection.

Shortly before Christmas, he says his GP told him his foot had another infection and urged him to return to the same hospital.

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They took an x-ray of his foot and did not give him any news after his discharge.

Belliveau attended several follow-up appointments throughout January and underwent 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 bones.

“My bones are breaking, I mean, they’re just breaking,” Belliveau said.

“That’s why I wear 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 pressure on his foot or he might need to amputate everything below his knee.

After hearing the diagnosis, Belliveau decided to search his own medical records on MyHealthNB to see the results of the December 2023 X-ray.

“I went back to my (file) and looked up the records about this on December 21 that said there are signs of fractures in the second and third toe,” he explained.

Belliveau doesn’t understand why no one informed him of this before his follow-up in February.

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“I think that’s the scariest thing: that we have to take care of our own health care,” she said.

“Six weeks is a long time to wait for x-ray results. If she had known in December, she wouldn’t have put any weight on it. What was the damage between December 23 and February 1? 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 healthcare would help more… but it seems like we have to find the answer ourselves to know what to do. And it’s very stressful,” she said.

Belliveau says he’s not sure what his next step will be, but is calling for a change after such an important health indicator was overlooked.

In a statement to Global News, Vitalité Health Network said it could not comment directly on specific situations involving patients.

“All complaints are taken seriously as they may provide us with the opportunity to improve our services and processes. They undergo analysis and follow-up with the patient in question or her family members,” reads part of the statement.

“We are committed to providing safe, quality care and services to all New Brunswickers.”

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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