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According to the article of "Patients' odds of winning medical malpractice suits in Canada aren't good, says new book" in the Globe and Mail published on April 5, 2013, saying that more than 4,000 lawsuits filed against physicians from 2005 to 2010, only 2% resulted in trial verdicts for the victim!
I would like to share a personal story with you all about a close relative, who has been suffering from knee pain and degenerating walking abilities for over past seven years. Her doctor kept telling her condition because of the reason of aging during her visits to the clinic all these years. Until recently, she found out that the root cause was originated from an intrathecal extramedullary lesion compressing in the spinal cord through a discovery in her MRI. She finally underwent a major surgery to diagnosis her condition with the right treatment.
The above-mentioned case is not the worst scenario, and she, at least, received the right diagnosis for her condition eventually. However, other stories aren't that lucky!
So, how can a "Medical Malpractice" be defined in our current law? Medical Malpractice occurs when, as a result of negligence by a physician, a patient suffers injury or harm from a doctor who fell below the standard expected of reasonably competent of similar training and experience in the manner of treatment.
In order to be successful in a medical malpractice action, a patient must be able to establish causation between (i) a breach of the requisite standard of care AND ii) caused harm on the patient by a physician, on a balance of probabilities. Lawsuits can be brought against the physicians in terms of (i) the performance of a procedure, (ii) misdiagnosis of a patient's condition, (iii) mistaken recommendation of a treatment, or (iv) the failure to warn a patient potential risk(s) of a treatment. Keeping in mind that an "error in judgement" is not enough, as the law realizes that physicians often have to make quick decisions without the best information.
Furthermore, a patient must prove the case in support of sufficient evidence(s), verified by expert witnesses comprised of physicians in the same field and experience. It can often be exceedingly difficult to find physicians who are prepared to testify against one of their own, not to mention there are limited number of physicians practising in some speciality fields. In addition, the Canadian Medical Protection is also known for vigorously defending its members in proceedings brought against physicians and is well-resourced to do so.
The tort case litigation should have been dealt with by the lawyers with the limitation period usually within 2 years. The complaint to the relevant regulatory body can also be filed by the legal representative on behalf of the patient.
There are some precautionary measures based on my experience to reduce a chance of being medically mistreated, such as
- Ask your physician (i) what the treatment is, (ii) why this treatment is chosen for your medical condition, and (iii) how this treatment is conducted effectively. Although it is hard for an average person to understand complicated medical procedures, a patient at least gets informed of general medical knowledge;
- Consult with another physician for a second opinion if in doubt (either in the country or out of the country);
- Conduct a general research on your illness in terms of common symptom(s) , and proper diagnosis or/and procedures. Familiar yourself with general medical knowledge of your illness and medical publications from a reputable physician in that field;
- Get access to your own medical record(s) or history when necessary.
In my opinion, there are many physicians with great passion practicing in the medical field and treating each patient with care. Meanwhile, a patient is also responsible for protecting himself/herself from any possible harm when being medically treated and getting well-informed.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be construed as a legal advice, but strictly for information only in this entire website. Please contact Trustworthy Legal Service for your independent legal advice in your particular situation. The first consultation is also required prior to my retainer of your case.
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