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)

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.

Oak Bay High Schoolopioid crisisoverdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Eurchuk family. (Submitted)

The Eurchuk family. (Submitted)

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

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

Just Posted

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins says she’s leaving at the end of the school year. Photo: Tyler Harper
School District 8 superintendent Christine Perkins resigns

Perkins is leaving to take over another district

The 300 block Victoria Street is the site of Nelson’s proposed transit exchange. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
LETTER: Nelson City Council, please reconsider transit hub plan

From seven property and business owners near the intersection of Victoria and Kootenay Streets

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

Most Read