Why 98% of Canadian Medical Malpractice Victims Never Receive a Penny in Compensation
A famous Harvard Medical School study found that more than half of all injuries caused by medical treatment (in other words, not caused by the patient’s initial injury or illness) were preventable, and another quarter of those incidents were caused by negligence.
A report published in the May 25, 2004 issue of the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association entitled: “The Canadian Adverse Event Study: Incidence of Adverse Events in Hospital Patients in Canada” confirmed the findings of similar studies in the United States. United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand.
The Canadian study concluded:
o Up to 24,000 patients die each year due to “adverse events” (doctors code words for medical error).
o 87,500 patients admitted annually to Canadian intensive care hospitals experience an adverse event.
o 1 in 13 adult patients admitted to a Canadian hospital encounters an adverse event.
o 1 in 19 adults will potentially receive the wrong medication or the wrong medication dose.
o 37% of adverse events are “highly” preventable.
o 24% of avoidable adverse events are related to medication errors.
A report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) indicated that nearly a quarter of Canadian adults (5.2 million people) reported that they, or a member of their family, had experienced a “preventable adverse event” ( medical error).
Are Canadian Medical Malpractice Claims Different From The US?
In one word; Yes.
Many people have read about the grand jury prizes for personal injury claims in the United States. Sometimes the US jury awards seem out of proportion to the injury.
In Canada, court awards are much lower than similar injury awards from US courts. Cases that could be successful in the US are simply not financially viable to pursue in Canada.
For example, the province of Nova Scotia also has some of the most conservative (lowest) awards in Canada in compensation for personal injury claims.
Role of the APMC:
In Canada, most physicians are advocated by a single organization, the Canadian Medical Protection Association (CMPA).
According to a recent annual report, the CMPA has two point nine (2.9) BILLION DOLLARS in assets (money in the bank). The CMPA can use this money to hire the best experts and attorneys money can buy.
Many victims of serious medical errors are unable to work or have huge ongoing health care or rehabilitation expenses.
Faced with such overwhelming financial difficulties, Canadian medical malpractice victims face an almost insurmountable challenge to obtain justice and just compensation for their injuries.
Remember the Canadian Medical Association Journal study that found that more than 87,000 patients in Canada suffer an adverse event and up to 24,000 people die each year due to medical errors? That’s over 100,000 potential malpractice claims in Canada each year!
But between 2002 and 2006, the CMPA reports that only 5,246 lawsuits were filed against doctors in Canada – only about 1,000 claims per year.
In other words, out of 100,000 potential claims, 99% of potential medical malpractice victims did not even file a claim.
The CMPA reports its success rate in defending claims filed against physicians. More than 3,800 of the 5,000 claims were dismissed or abandoned because the victim or his family resigned, ran out of money, or died before trial.
Some scary stats:
o The CMPA resolved only 229 claims out of court (usually after several years of litigation and just before trial).
o Of the 577 cases that went to trial, only 121 resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff victim. In other words, only twenty percent (20%) of the medical malpractice plaintiffs actually won the lawsuit.
o For the few victims who did win at trial, the median damages award was only $ 95,500.00.
o In 2006, the CMPA spent $ 72 million in legal fees to advocate for physicians across Canada.
o Of more than 5,000 lawsuits filed against physicians, only two percent (2%) resulted in judgment verdicts for the victim.
In other words, 98% of Canadian medical malpractice victims never receive a penny in compensation.
The odds against medical malpractice victims are almost staggering. If you believe that you or a member of your family has suffered an injury or loss as a result of medical negligence, it is essential to obtain the proper advice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can tell you if you have a possible claim and can advise you what you need to prove to have the best chance of winning your case.