Medical Malpractice

A landmark study in 2004 involving cases of medical malpractice estimated that as many as 70,000 patients in hospitals were injured as a result of preventable medical errors on an annual basis. Unfortunately many of those patients were severely inured or died. If we were to assume that with population increasing those numbers may even be higher today.

The three areas of practice that produce the most cases involve specialists, obstetrics and surgery.

If you or a family member who may not be able to speak on their own behalf suspects that they have been injured by negligent health care it is important that the case be discussed with legal counsel who can provide an opinion on the merits of the case. Many cases may not pass a legal threshold and therefore they may not be able to proceed. Often it will be necessary to obtain a medical opinion to review the case to determine if there was substandard care. Simply receiving poor care may not give rise to a viable case. It is not easy to sue a health care provider and statistics show that the number of medical malpractice cases are decreasing. Physicians are protected by a non-profit organization called the Canadian Medical Protection Association (CMPA) which has access to a $3.6 billion war chest to hire lawyers and experts to fight a medical malpractice case. Most cases are fought vigorously and take exceptionally long periods of time to reach trial. This has been called the “scorched earth defence”.

A medical malpractice case has a limited time frame in whch to commence a legal proceeding. If the time frame has passed then the case cannot proceed.  Some provinces have different time frames depending on their legislation. It is essential to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to avoid a time barred potential case. We handle cases that occur in other provinces and we will often partner with other lawyers as co-counsel who have immediate access to their provincial courts and system.

Catastrophic baby deliveries tend to have the highest settlements or court awards. They may be in the millions due to the enormous costs associated costs with patient care and medical treatment. The CMPA has reviewed over 169 such cases over the past ten years in which serious harm occurred during obstetrical deliveries and emergencies. Most cases involved a serious breakdown in judgment which lead to delayed delivery of the unborn child resulting in overwhelming injury to the baby. Catastrophic delivery cases are rare but they do occur and they are disastrous for the family and child. There are about 6 maternal deaths per 100,000 deliveries in Canada whereas 5 children may die per 1,000 births.

If you are concerned about a medical malpractice occurring you should secure the medical charts in their entirety so that the activity can be reviewed.  Patients are entitled to a copy of their charts but will most likely have to pay a fee for the service.

Medical malpractice cases are difficult and require a great deal of time and resources. Even if there is evidence of improper medical treatment it will also require proof that the injury is due to that failure of proper care.

We would be happy to discuss your case with you at anytime but please be aware that a delay may result in a good case becoming time barred.

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