What To Do When You Believe You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice

What To Do When You Believe You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice

Author: Kris Bonn

There is no question that the Canadian healthcare system provides excellent medical care to most people. However, according to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, in our Canadian healthcare system there is a death from preventable patient harm every 13 minutes and 14 seconds. One out of 18 hospital visits result in preventable harm. These incidents generate an additional $2.75 billion in healthcare treatment costs very year.[1]

In Canada, patients who are harmed in hospitals and/or medical care may be able to obtain some relief and compensation for their harms and losses in a medical malpractice legal action. While it is true that money can never replace a person’s life or give a person back her health, money damages recognize a person’s pain, suffering, losses and harms suffered by the wrongdoing of others. We do not have “eye for an eye” justice, but that does not mean that those who cause harm to others should be excused. Our civil justice system is here to make those who cause harm accountable for their actions.

So what can you do if you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice? As a starting point, as soon as possible, obtain your medical and hospital records for all periods of time around the incident. You have the legal right to copies of your medical records. Do not let a doctor, nurse practitioner or hospital tell you differently. While the physical notes and documents belong to the medical professional or hospital that created the records, as a patient, you have the right to a copy of your medical records.[2] Once you have a copy of your records, carefully review them and make written notes of what is not correct or incomplete. It is important that as early as possible you make written notes of all your interactions and discussions with all medical professionals. In many medical malpractice cases what actually happened between a doctor and patient is in dispute. If you have contemporaneous notes of your interactions made shortly after all interactions this will enhance your credibility.

Medical malpractice cases are one of, if not the most complicated cases, for a plaintiff to win. Hospitals and doctors vigorously fight every case. Doctors are represented in Canada by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA). The CMPA is not an insurance company and does not care about making profits. The CMPA takes a hardline in almost every medical malpractice case against a doctor, even when the negligence may be obvious. You need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer on your side to help you in this David and Goliath fight. You should reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as believe there may have been medical negligence that caused you or your family harm. In most cases, the medical malpractice lawyer will need to review the medical records and consult with a medical expert before knowing if you have a chance of succeeding. This takes time. Unfortunately, in Ontario there is a 2-year limitation period to bring a legal action. The 2 years does not start to run until you know or reasonably ought to know that you suffered harm from potential negligence so there are some cases where the limitation period can be extended beyond the 2-year deadline from when the incident occurred, however, it is always better to start the claim within the 2 years.

Some patients are uncomfortable with the idea of suing their doctor, and that is understandable. However, even good, well-qualified doctors make mistakes once in a while. Any professional, whether a lawyer, accountant or doctor is negligent and causes harm to an innocent person, the professional should account for the negligence and compensate the injured person. That is the law in Ontario and it is right and just. The more people that come forward to call out medical negligence when it occurs, will hopefully result in less medical negligence in the future. This will make our healthcare system safer for everyone in our community.

[2] Section 52 of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c. 3 Sched. A