A famous Harvard Medical School study found that more than half of all injuries caused by medical management (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 Canadian Medical Association Journal titled: “Canadian Adverse Events Study: The Incidence of Adverse Events in Hospitalized Patients in Canada” confirmed the findings of similar studies in the United States, Australia, the UK, 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 a medical error).

o 87,500 patients admitted annually to Canadian acute care hospitals experience an adverse event.

o 1 in 13 adult patients admitted to a Canadian hospital experiences an adverse event.

o 1 in 19 adults will potentially receive the wrong drug or the wrong dose of the drug.

o 37% of the opposite events are “highly” preventable.

o 24% of preventable 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 family member, had experienced a “preventable adverse event” (medical error).

Are Canadian medical malpractice claims different from those in the US?

In one word; Yes.

Many people have read about the great jury awards for personal injury lawsuits in the United States. Sometimes the awards of the American jury seem to be disproportionate to the injury.

In Canada, court sentences are much lower than similar injury awards from United States courts. Cases that could be successful in the US are simply not economically viable in Canada.

For example, the province of Nova Scotia also has some of the most conservative (lowest) awards in Canada for personal injury claim awards.

Role of the APMC:

In Canada, most doctors are defended 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 large expenses for rehabilitation or ongoing medical care.

Against such overwhelming financial odds, Canadian victims of medical malpractice face an almost insurmountable challenge to obtain justice and fair compensation for their injuries.

Remember the Canadian Medical Association Journal study that found that more than 87,000 patients in Canada experience 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 never even filed a claim!

The CMPA reports its success rate in defending lawsuits filed against physicians. More than 3,800 of the 5,000 claims were dismissed or abandoned because the victim or her family quit or 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 complainants won their lawsuit.

o For the few victims who won at trial, the average damage award was only $95,500.00.

o In 2006, the CMPA spent $72 million in legal fees to defend doctors across Canada.

o Of over 5,000 lawsuits filed against physicians, only two percent (2%) resulted in trial verdicts for the victim.

In other words, 98% of Canadian victims of medical malpractice never receive a dime in compensation!

The odds against victims of medical malpractice are almost overwhelming. If you believe that you or a member of your family has suffered an injury or loss as a result of medical malpractice, it is essential to obtain the appropriate advice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can tell you if you have a potential claim and can advise you what you need to prove to give yourself the best chance of winning your case.

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