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

Pioneer Arena is closing for the season. Photo: John Boivin
Castlegar’s Pioneer Arena and Nelson Civic Centre closing for season

RDCK is closing the ice at two of its arenas due to financial concerns related to COVID-19

A juvenile sturgeon in a B.C. rearing facility. The wild population in the Upper Columbia is estimated at 1,100 individuals, enhanced with roughly 5,500 hatchery fish. (file photo)
B.C.’s Upper Columbia sturgeon endure long battle with local extinction

Decades of monitoring and intervention is ongoing to save the prehistoric fish

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

RCMP responded to a report early Friday morning of a suspect firing a gun at a Salmo home. Photo: Black Press
RCMP arrest woman who fired shots at Salmo home

The woman allegedly discharged a firearm early Friday morning

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

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

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read