Every year the number of reported motor vehicle accidents manages to correspond fairly closely with the number of lawsuits that get filed by the victims of such accidents. Yet in sharp contrast to that correspondence, there exists a noticeable difference between the number of reported medical errors and the number of lawsuits filed by patients for medical malpractice.
What is medical malpractice?
Despite the belief of a fair number of patients, the term medical malpractice does not refer to the absence of satisfactory recovery by a given patient. It applies to the physician’s performance and not the outcome of a given case. A doctor can be declared guilty of malpractice if it can be proven that he or she failed to exhibit a level of performance that matched with what the treated patient had reason to anticipate.
The legal definition of malpractice by a practicing physician allows consideration of any evidence of negligence. The most glaring examples of negligence could be found in cases where a doctor has failed to treat a sick patient, has presented a patient with a mistaken diagnosis, has delayed presentation of a diagnosis or has ignored a patient’s request for referral to a specialist.
Still, that list does not include all the ways by which a given doctor might be negligent. That member of the medical profession might deliver substandard care or make mistakes while prescribing a medication. Such mistakes saddle the victim/patient with what the courts refer to as general damages.
How the court rules on awards for such damages
The courts put a cap on the amount of money that a patient can seek for general damages. Such money covers the costs of pain and suffering. On the other hand, the court does not limit the amount of money that can be sought for punitive damages. Still any money for punitive damages only goes to those that have won their case. Moreover, the court seldom awards that sort of money to any plaintiff that has failed to prove that a physician was guilty of acting out of malice or of demonstrating markedly reprehensible conduct.
A legal issue that touches on a matter of Canadian law (as it relates to physicians)
In Canada, the gap between the reported cases of medical malpractice and the number of lawsuits filed is greater than it is in the United States. That difference reflects the different rules concerning the doctor’s ability to purchase protection from lawsuits. In the United States, doctors buy such protection from private companies. Consequently, the cost for such protection depends on any history of past claims by patients of a particular physician.
In Canada, provincial governments subsidize a portion of the fees that doctors pay for such protection. Such a system works to defend physicians, while making those patients that have been harmed reluctant to sue a negligent or malicious doctor.Thus, if you have a case of medical negligence or medical malpractice, it is important to discuss the details with a personal injury lawyer in Calgary.