There seems to be an unhealthy reluctance to avoid holding the medical profession accountable for errors. Yes, I did say “errors”. It would be a rare case indeed where a physician intended to do a patient harm. Does that mean that the doctor should not be accountable to maintain a certain standard of care? Because if that’s the case, how is a patient truly protected in the health care system?
Of course, as lawyers, we have no reservations about commencing action against anyone in the health care system. And, as lawyers, we have heard all your reservations:
“I really like my doctor”
That’s wonderful. Perhaps your doctor even likes you. Your doctor has a fund that covers him when he screws up. That means that if you sue him, the cost of a Defence and any money paid to you in settlement or judgment comes out of that fund. Your doctor will not be shelling out money from his own pocket. If your doctor REALLY likes you, I have no doubt that he will hope that you are compensated by this fund. That’s what it is for after all.
“She didn’t do it on purpose”
Of course not. It’s still a mistake and it will negatively affect your life. When another driver rear-ends your car on a slippery road, it is rarely the case that the crash is a purposeful act. Yet we have no compunction about suing. That’s because there is insurance in place. In that regard, see the comments in the section above.
“If I sue my doctor, will he keep treating me?”
No, he will not. But really, do you want him to?
“I don’t want to turn Alberta into a U.S. style health care system where doctors are leaving in droves because of increasing liability premiums”
First off, doctors in Alberta are not subject to purchasing private insurance and paying premiums as they do in the U.S. They are protected by the Canadian Medical Protective Association. The fees paid include legal protection from lawsuits. In Canada, the damages you can collect for the pain and suffering aspect of your claim have been limited since 1979. That means that your lawsuit is not impacting our health care system in that manner.
“I have no chance of winning – don’t doctors all protect each other?”
There are many fine doctors, usually from other provinces, that will review medical charts and provide unbiased, fair opinions regarding care. There are many doctors who feel a need to help uphold the standard of medical care we aim for in Canada.
“My family will be disappointed in me. My doctor has been caring for all of us for a long time.”
Your family should be disappointed if you have suffered a grievous medical result and do nothing to help yourself.
“Lawsuits are too expensive.”
Lawsuits are expensive. That’s why you need a Contingency Fee Agreement with Robinson LLP. We will carry the costs of your lawsuit until it is concluded. Better than that, our fee is dependent on the success of your claim. Either you collect or we don’t charge a fee.
We can go on and discuss many reservations. The bottom line is that the decision is up to you. We don’t mean to be trite. It really is a serious decision. However, the pros and cons of making it have to do with:
- Whether medical negligence is present; and
- Whether you have suffered significant enough loss as a result of that negligence to make a claim worth your effort.
If you are the victim of medical negligence, you owe it to yourself to at least get a legal opinion. What you decide to do with that opinion is up to you. However, you should at least make a decision based on the facts of your case, not mere emotion. Someone has got to take care of you…