Medical Malpractice: Family Doctor Negligence
In Ontario, most people have access to a family doctor to provide comprehensive care for illnesses and chronic conditions. If a patient is harmed while under the care of a family doctor and they believe that the doctor was negligent then they may have a medical malpractice case. But that doesn’t mean that it will be easy.
Canadian Health Care System
Canadian healthcare is a single-payer system, which covers most residents for a wide array of essential medical needs. Physicians in Ontario are typically paid a standard amount per service through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Many physicians and specialists are regulated as to what they can charge, making healthcare relatively accessible. In addition, physicians and many medical specialists are recognized by OHIP, allowing people to choose who provides diagnosis and treatment, in addition to what treatment they want to receive.
Most doctors are insured against medical malpractice with help from Government subsidies. Per this National Post article, Ontario was expected to pay the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), who provide liability coverage to healthcare professionals, $335 million out of the reported $384 million charged to doctors in Ontario in 2017.
If a physician was negligent in their care of a patient, then they could be held legally responsible. Healthcare providers must deliver the required healthcare with the utmost care for the wellbeing of their patients.
Successful claims require that the plaintiff prove that the healthcare provider failed in adhering to and providing a reasonable standard of care. Common negligence claims in the healthcare field include: improper diagnosis, delay in diagnosis and/or treatment, failure to report abuse, and of course, treatment that does not meet the standard of care set out for physicians by regulatory bodies.
Standard of Care, Duty of Care and Foreseeable Injury
Medical malpractice, like most personal injury cases, require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that he/she breached that duty and that his/her breach caused injury to the plaintiff and that the injury is not too remote.
A family doctor has a trusted role in society. If he/she fails to act in the best interest of their patient, or fails to act in accordance with the proper standard of care, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
Does Canada Discourage Medical Malpractice
Suing for medical malpractice in Canada is complicated by Canada’s healthcare system. Since family doctors are supported in some capacity by both the CMPA and their provincial Government, they have resources to mount a strong defense against claims of medical malpractice. This leads to an aggressive approach.
If medical malpractice insurance premiums spike, then taxpayers could be stuck footing the bill. Many have argued that the Government and associations like the CMPA are extremely aggressive in protecting the medical community from malpractice suits.
In Canada, the Government has also instituted a maximum amount (or cap) on the amount of non-pecuniary damages that a plaintiff can receive for pain and suffering, if successful. The cap is adjusted each year for inflation and is roughly $360,000.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Victims must prove that the defendant, as a medical practitioner, breached their duty to the plaintiff, and that breach lead directly to the plaintiff’s injuries, illnesses, further harm or even death. This is not an easy task and it’s important that victims are represented by strong legal minds who have experience with medical malpractice lawsuits.
For any person seeking damages from a family doctor, it can be a long and arduous road. Regardless of the challenges, the personal injury lawyers at Mackesy Smye will leverage our experience and expertise to build a strong case that can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss you case.