Brock Eurchuk and Rachel Staples, whose son Elliot Eurchuk died from an accidental overdose Friday in his Oak Bay home, call for changes to the laws governing youth health care. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Parents call for change to health laws after Victoria teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

The parents of a Victoria teen who died from an accidental overdose Friday are calling for changes to the laws governing youth health care.

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his home on Friday. His parents, Rachel Staples and Brock Eurchuk, believe he took street drugs to help him sleep.

Elliot had been battling drug dependency after he was prescribed opioids for four major surgeries in 2017, including two for a fractured jaw and two shoulder reconstructions as a result of sports injuries. When his prescriptions of the highly addictive opioids ran out, he turned to street drugs for relief. He tried to hide the addiction from his parents, and was successful for awhile as he was shielded by the law.

The Infants Act states that children under 19 years of age may consent to a medical treatment on their own as long as the health care provider is sure that the treatment is in the child’s best interest, and that the child understands the risks and benefits of the treatment.

“Kids try to make these decisions for themselves. If they don’t want the help, there is nothing in our legal system that allows us as parents to get them the help they need,” said Staples.

“That kind of policy basically knocks parents to their knees in their efforts to help their children. In our son’s case it ultimately led to his death because we had no control over his medical direction.”

Staples and her husband attempted to get access to Elliot’s health records after he had been in and out of hospital with serious infections. They were told that Elliot did not want them to know what was going on. Due to the Infants Act, doctors honoured Elliot’s wishes and told the parents nothing. An event in early February changed that.

Elliot was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 31 with a blood infection, which had him in the hospital for 26 days to get multiple rounds of IV antibiotics. On Feb. 9, Elliot was given a day pass. His dad took him to meet some friends for a movie and picked him up right afterwards to take him back to the hospital. At some point between drop off and pick up, Elliot got some opioids.

He was found by the medical team at the hospital early the next morning, not breathing and with blue lips. They administered naloxone and saved Elliot’s life. It was at this point that his parents overheard a doctor talking to Elliot about naloxone and they got their first insight into what was happening with him.

“Even then it wasn’t a direct conversation about what he had taken,” said Staples. “I’m a health care provider, I know what naloxone is. That was their only way of telling us that Elliot was using opioids from the streets.”

Staples and Eurchuk want to be clear that they are not blaming individuals, it is the system they feel needs to be changed. The Infants Act should be altered to allow parents to play a role in their child’s health care. If youth are displaying at-risk behaviour, Staples and Eurchuk think parents should be told about what is happening and have a say in their child’s medical treatment.

“When a parent suggests that their child is not capable of making responsible medical decisions I think that needs to override [the child’s] desires,” said Staples.

They are also calling for alternatives to opioids in pain management.

“I just don’t understand why opiates are the first line of approach for pain and why they are so widely prescribed when they are so addictive. There has got to be something else, particularly when you are dousing a young developing brain in opioids.” said Staples. “After his surgeries, Elliot came home with a prescription, like a bucket full of opioids. Yes, his surgery was extremely painful, and yes it is awful for the short-term but the long-term ramifications of opioids is just too risky.”

The final message that Elliot’s parents want to get out, is for kids to make sure that if they are going to experiment, they don’t do it alone.

“Elliot was alone,” said Staples.

The family is trying to cope and plan a funeral in an age where word travels instantly – they only had three hours between finding their son’s body and getting calls from the school district and media.

“We are putting on a face for these media interviews but when we wake up in the morning, we are broken. Completely broken. We wake up multiple times a night gasping for breath, thinking about our son’s heartbeat stopping,” said Eurchuk.

RELATED: Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

RELATED: Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Resources are available for those affected by or struggling to cope with the loss.

Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 counselling online at kidshelpphone.ca or by phone 1-800-668-6868.

The 24-hour Vancouver Island Crisis Line is an Island Health contracted service offers text 250-800-3806, online chat vicrisis.ca and phone services 1-888-494-3888.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The Eurchuk family. (Submitted)

Photos of Elliot Eurchuk at different stages of his short life. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Just Posted

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Slippery suspect evades RCMP near Clearwater twice in one week

Anyone with information urged to contact RCMP or Crime Stoppers

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

Man Tracker Invitational returns to Clearwater

By Jaime Polmateer The fourth annual Man Tracker Invitational is taking place… Continue reading

Wildfire smoke fills North Thompson Valley – people advised to be mindful of their health

Many areas of the province are currently fighting active wildfires, with evacuation… Continue reading

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Most Read