Medical Malpractice In Canada - Why You Need Legal Advice

In Canada we rely on doctors and nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers including dentists, chiropractors, and the like to provide excellent medical treatment when we are sick or injured. When unintended consequences arise, they are often catastrophic. Nothing can be worse than a baby damaged through medical error, or leaving a hospital sicker than when you went in. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical treatment gone wrong you may be entitled to compensation. To find out, it is essential that you speak to a lawyer about your claim.


A recent study has found that 1 out of every 100 people admitted to the hospital are injured as a result of the negligence of their caregivers. This does not take into account those who are treated incorrectly at their doctor's office, or prescribed inappropriate or incorrect medication. Due to the increasing complexity of the issues involved in medical care, there are a myriad of things that can go wrong. Because of this, Medical Malpractice is an important and growing area of the law.

The Standard of Practice

Health care practitioners are required to stay current in their knowledge and treatment methods and to meet a reasonable standard of practice. Where they fail to do so, they may be found liable for any injuries that result from their sub-standard care. The courts have found specifically that doctors have a duty to conduct their practice in accordance with standards. A general practitioner act in a manner consistent with that of a prudent and diligent doctor in the same circumstances. A specialists has a duty to exercise a higher degree of skill and knowledge because of their expertise in the field.

Who can be sued for medical negligence?

While doctors are often the targets of malpractice litigation, other defendants may include hospital staff including nurses and technicians, pharmacists, dentists and alternative health practitioners including chiropractors and others, if their actions or omissions are responsible for causing injuries.

Victims of medical malpractice are often unaware that their health care provider has caused them injury, as the circumstance of the negligence may not always be disclosed to the patient. If you suspect that you are suffering as a result of medical care, you should obtain a second opinion from another doctor, or contact a lawyer for assistance with obtaining a review of your case.

Your right to compensation

While medical negligence claims are complex and take time to resolve, the benefits of a successful case can make a significant difference to an injured person.

If it is established that you suffered injury and damage as a result of the negligence of your doctor or other health care provider you may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future wage loss, the cost of future care, out of pocket expenses and possibly other compensation.

In order to establish liability in negligence against a doctor or other health care provider a person must:

  1. prove that the doctor owed a duty of care to the injured person;
  2. establish the standard of care required of a prudent and diligent physician in similar circumstances;
  3. prove that the doctor in question failed to meet the standard required;
  4. demonstrate that the injury suffered was caused by the doctor's failure to meet the standard.

How do I prove my case?

It is essential that you have a lawyer well versed in this area of the law, who has available to him or her the right resources to properly conduct your case. Medical experts will be required to testify about the standard of care, and a lawyer skilled in the art of cross-examination will have the task of chipping away at the defence's case. That is were Velletta & Company can help. With a proven track record of cases resolved by settlement or at trial, we are well equipped to assist you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Here is a recent report of one of our cases.

Defences to malpractice claims

Doctors have several defences to malpractice actions which include the doctrines of "respected minority," "accepted practice" and "error in judgment". These are technical matters that require a good lawyer to successfully challenge. If the doctor can establish that the actions which led to the injury were errors in judgment and not negligent, that the practice followed was accepted by other diligent and competent physicians and the injury merely an unfortunate result, or even that a minority of respectable doctors would act in a way which deviates from the standard accepted by most physicians, then the doctor may avoid liability unless negligence can be proven.

Because of these hurdles, it is always advisable to retain a lawyer to assist in pursuing a medical negligence claim. Your lawyer will be able to assist in deciding whether your case has enough merit to take to trial, will assist in preparing your case and will help obtain the required expert opinions to support your claim. Your lawyer will guide you through the complex litigation process with a view to maximizing your recovery.

If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please do not hesitate to contact me to assist you in learning about and enforcing your rights. I can be reached via email at

About the Author

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Written by Gregory T. Rhone

Gregory Rhone obtained his law degree at the University of Victoria after studying Sciences, English, Classics, Political Science and Philosophy as an undergraduate. He articled with Gordon & Velletta and was called to the bar in February, 1999. Before joining the firm as a civil litigator, he was in private practice.

The focus of Mr. Rhone's practice is on medical malpractice, and personal injury law including: motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and other injuries. He also deals with general civil litigation, contract disputes, and a host of other areas of civil law.

Mr. Rhone has successfully argued in BC's highest court, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and in the Supreme and Provincial Courts of British Columbia. He has also argued in front of numerous other Courts and Tribunals including the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal in Toronto.