Medical Errors and Disabilities: What You Need to Know
Recently, lawyer, Michael Hershkop, presented at the 2018 Toronto Abilities Expo, a high-profile conference that has been bringing together individuals with disabilities and their families and caregivers, and healthcare professionals across North America for more than four decades.
Michael provided a helpful overview on medical errors and medical malpractice for conference attendees and answered frequently asked questions. Here are some highlights from his presentation.
Some Stats on Medical Injuries in Canada
In general, healthcare in Canada is excellent and most Canadians receive outstanding medical care. However, a 2004 study estimated that 70,000 preventable errors occur annually in Canadian hospitals, resulting in between 9,000 to 23,000 deaths. 1 in 13 patients admitted to hospital are injured by negligent medical care.
Medical errors can and do happen and can significantly impact an injured patient or alter the rest of that patient’s life.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a preventable medical injury caused by the negligence of a health professional or hospital. In essence, it is an injury or death that occurs because a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care professional or organization did not do what they were supposed to do.
The consequences of a medical error can be devastating and can include:
- Trauma at birth (including brain injury, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy/brachial plexus,);
- Genetic birth defect such as spina bifida;
- Missed stroke, missed heart attack, missed infections;
- Cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis;
- Treatment error (wrong medication, allergy, infection); and
- Surgical error.
Unfortunately, most injured patients do not have the medical knowledge to understand that something went wrong. In addition, they are often never told that their injury was preventable, even their trusted family doctor may not realize that their injury should not have happened.
What to Do if You Suspect Negligence?
There are several things that an injured patient or family member can do if they suspect that their injury was caused by medical error or hospital error:
- Trust your instincts – do you believe you experienced an unexpected/unexplained result?
- Document what you remember – take detailed notes, record dates, log changes in your symptoms and gather documents.
- Gather information – get a diagnosis, ask questions, request medical records, speak to your family doctor and conduct online research.
- Contact a medical malpractice lawyer – consultation and initial investigation is usually free!
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
A medical malpractice lawyer is a trial lawyer who focuses only on medical malpractice cases. He or she can file a lawsuit on behalf of an injured patient or their family in order to seek financial compensation for injuries or disabilities.
Medical malpractice claims are very complex and highly technical, both from a legal and a medical perspective. They essentially involve challenging doctors and other health care professionals in their own field of expertise. In addition, they are litigated much differently than many other personal injury lawsuits and involve extremely powerful organizations with significant resources including hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and defence organizations such as HIROC and the CMPA.
A properly run medical malpractice case will generally require that a medical malpractice lawyer or firm retain numerous medical and other experts and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in preparing a case.
Establishing Medical Malpractice
In order to establish that a doctor, other health care professional, or hospital was negligent, your medical malpractice lawyer must establish, through expert evidence:
- The care or treatment you received fell below the standard of care of a reasonably competent professional;
- The negligence was the cause of your injury or disability;
- Had it not been for the negligence, the outcome would have been avoided (or different).
- Damages (i.e. compensation)
- You suffered monetary losses, including money you will need to spend on future care, and time you may have to spend caring for a disabled child;
- You have pain and suffering.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive?
An injured patient is entitled to full compensation for their injury caused by medical negligence. This includes restitution for any financial losses or expenses caused by the injury, such as loss of income, as well as funds for the purchase of equipment, goods or services.
Some examples include:
- Home Purchase/Modifications;
- Attendant Care/Respite Care;
- Medical and Rehabilitation Services;
- Educational Expenses and Vocational Assistance;
- Transportation Expenses; and
- Specialized or Modified Avocational/Recreational Activities.
Compensation for injuries due to medical error or malpractice can be significant. For instance, our firm recently secured more than $5.5 million for a Barrie, Ontario family whose daughter had significant injuries at birth. This is just one of a large number of medical malpractice cases we have successfully litigated.
Retaining the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyers
One of the most important considerations for people injured by medical malpractice is finding the lawyer with the right skills, experience and compassion.
At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh we have been representing patients and the families of patients affected by medical negligence for more than 40 years. Medical malpractice law is virtually all that we do.
Our firm is regularly at the forefront of major developments in medical malpractice litigation and has set a number of ground-breaking legal precedents. In addition, we have been recognized as being among the top medical malpractice firms in Canada. We are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing our knowledge and helping injured patients and their families.
If you have questions about the medical care you received, or if you suspect that something out of the ordinary or abnormal may have occurred, we can help. Call us at 1-844-777-7372 or contact us online for a free consultation and to hear how we can help. Our goal is your financial security and the results could be life-changing.
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