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How Do the Courts Define Medical Negligence?


Canadian law tends to discourage medical malpractice lawsuits. Physicians and hospitals are highly protected under medical liability insurance, such as through Canadian Medical Protective Association. And the Supreme Court has capped pain and suffering damages.

Still, many injured victims file a suit against physicians and hospitals each year. The Courts adhere to strict guidelines when determining whether or not a patient’s injury is a result of medical malpractice.

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Elements Necessary for Medical Malpractice

Not every instance in which a doctor makes an error is medical negligence.

In order to bring a valid medical malpractice claim, you’ll need to be able to show the following elements:

  • Duty of care – there must be a verifiable patient-physician relationship, i.e., the doctor owed you a certain duty of care.
  • Standard of care – the doctor did not provide you with a reasonable standard of care.
  • Foreseeability – the injuries that you suffered were reasonably foreseeable.
  • Causation – the doctor’s behaviors were the proximate cause of your injuries.
  • Substantial damages – you suffered actual, demonstrable damages.
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Examples of Medical Malpractice

If you suffer unnecessary harm because the physician didn’t use the degree of care that other physicians would have used in the same situation or because he or she deviated from a reasonable standard of care, the courts may consider it malpractice.

Some examples of actions that might be medical malpractice include:

  • failing to obtain or review medical history before treatment;
  • not ordering adequate or appropriate diagnostic tests;
  • failing to advise you on all your treatment options;
  • failing to warn you of significant risks of treatments;
  • not communicating with other attending physicians about your condition;
  • operating on the wrong body part;
  • performing unnecessary surgeries;
  • prescribing wrong medications or the wrong dosage; and
  • failing to provide a proper follow-up.

What Courts Do NOT Consider Malpractice

Conditions sometimes worsen, and complications sometimes occur; this doesn’t necessarily mean that a physician was negligent. If a physician was qualified, upheld an acceptable standard of care, and performed all the necessary steps in diagnosing or treating you – and you suffered injuries or complications despite his or her care – it’s most likely not a situation that justifies filing a medical malpractice claim.

Even making the wrong diagnosis or recommending a treatment that does not produce results is not always negligence, even if the patient suffers harm. In other words, if a doctor does his or her best to make a reasonable judgment call that other physicians could have reasonably made under similar circumstances, the courts most likely will not label it as malpractice, even if the doctor’s judgment was wrong.

Medical malpractice cases are quite complicated. If you or your family member suffered harm and you believe malpractice was the cause, discuss your case with a malpractice lawyer.

Get a Free Consultation with a Malpractice Lawyer in Ontario

Our lawyers at Preszler Injury Lawyers are well-versed in malpractice law in Ontario. We empathize with individuals and families harmed as a result of carelessness in the medical field. Our team can review your situation, determine if you satisfy the elements of malpractice, and help you decide how best to move forward. Contact us at 1-800-JUSTICE® to schedule your free consultation, or contact us online.

 
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