Even though Canada is at the frontline of quality medical and dental care, sometimes mistakes do occur. Medical and dental professionals (including nurses and other health care professionals) must provide an acceptable level of health care that protects their patients from harm. If this duty of care is not met, then the health care practitioner may be liable for medical negligence and you may be able to claim compensation for losses incurred as a result of their conduct.
Proving medical negligence claims
Medical negligence claims may be difficult to prove since properly licensed health care practitioners are entitled to use their “best judgment”.
That being said, you may have a successful claim if the following are proven:
- First you will need to establish “negligent conduct”, that is that the practitioner’s care fell below the standard of care expected of a reasonable medical practitioner in the same position, practicing in B.C.
- Then you will need to establish that the practitioner’s negligent conduct was the cause of your injuries. For example, if you suffer from complications after a surgery, you will need to prove that the complications arose as a result of the negligent conduct. Additionally, a patient may have a claim if your health care provider fails to give you all the information necessary to make an informed decision to provide informed consent regarding all of the risks associated with their care, treatment, diagnosis or surgery. In a claim against a dentist, for example, lack of appropriate sterilization of dental equipment during a routine procedure can result in viral infections and all kinds of bacterial spreads that lead to medical and dental problems down the line.
- And finally, you will need to prove “damages”, this includes monetary and non-monetary compensation. Monetary damages are awarded for losses with a dollar value, such as future earnings, medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses. Non-monetary damages are intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, as well as long-term medical and dental problems. Expensive and life-altering, reparation of mistakes by practitioners can take both a financial and emotional toll on even the strongest of character.
Maximum time to file
Normally, you must commence an action within 2 years of the negligent procedure. For children, however, the two year time period only starts to run once the child turns 19. The start of the two year limit can be delayed if you did not know, and could not reasonably have known, about the possibility that the practitioner was negligent until a later date. An example could be complications that arise months after negligent conduct by a doctor during a surgical procedure. That being said, the maximum time between treatment of an adult and commencing a lawsuit is 6 years against medical doctors, hospitals and their staff.