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Medical Malpractice : 8 Common Questions and Answers

When we are dealing with a medical problem, we rely on health professionals to provide care. Unfortunately, it happens that errors occur. If you have been the victim of a medical error, you may not be able to enjoy your life normally, be unable to work or maybe pay for continuing medical and rehabilitation care.
In these cases, you may be entitled to some form of compensation. To do this, we must first consider the extent to which the responsibility of the medical professional or institution is engaged, the seriousness of the error and its consequences.
Do you have a good case? How much can you sue for? Here are answers to these and other common questions!

How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?

In general, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit when the following have occurred:

  • The medical professional or establishment was providing a recognized medical standard of care.
  • You suffered physical, emotional or psychological harm.
  • The harm was caused by the medical procedure, professional and/or establishment.

Can you file a medical malpractice suit against someone other than a doctor?

Yes. A medical malpractice suit can be filed against any individual or facility that provides healthcare and has violated the acceptable standard of care, either intentionally or as a result of an error, omission and/or negligence.
When you meet with an attorney, they will evaluate your situation, taking into account all documents you have, including your medical records, and determine if you have grounds to file a lawsuit, and if so, who the suit should be filed against.

How do I obtain my medical records?

Under Quebec’s Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information, you have the legal right to access your medical records.
In a public healthcare institution in Quebec, the request for access to your records must be provided in writing and signed by you. Government issued photo ID must also be provided.
By law, the institution must respond to the request for access as quickly as possible and provide your medical records to you free of charge (though the institution can charge reasonable fees for transcription, mailing and copies of all or part of the record).
In a private clinic, the same rules apply. The clinic has up to 30 days to respond to your request.

What is “informed consent”?

Before performing any procedure, all health professionals are required by law to advise patients on the procedure that is to be performed and disclose fully any and all the possible risks associated with the procedure. In the case that a health professional fails to properly inform you and the procedure causes you harm, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit.

Is a misdiagnosis malpractice?

If a doctor, nurse and/or any other healthcare practitioner provides you with an incorrect diagnosis, either by error, omission and/or negligence, which prevents the proper treatment of your illness, and/or results in unnecessary physical, emotional or psychological harm to you, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit.
An attorney will need to review your case and all supporting documents, such as your medical records, to be able to provide you further guidance.

How much of a settlement can I expect to receive?

As every case and injury is different, there are a number of factors a judge will use to determine whether you are entitled to compensation or not, and if so, by how much. In general, if it has been proven that you suffered harm due to the actions or negligence of a medical procedure or facility, the judge will look to the following factors to determine the amount of the settlement to be awarded:

  • Degree of physical, psychological and emotional harm
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Compensation for family members who provide care to you

Should I talk to the insurance company before I talk to a lawyer?

We recommend that you speak to a lawyer and then inform your insurance company. Your lawyer can evaluate your case, advise you of your legal rights and help you understand the possible recourses that are available to you. Your attorney can also communicate with your insurance company on your behalf, saving you from hassles and headaches and ensuring that your rights are respected.
Your attorney can also communicate with your insurance company to advise them of any injury you’ve suffered as the result of a medical procedure to avoid any delays in your coverage.
Please note that for a medical malpractice case, you may have to undergo an independent medical exam and cover any associated costs.