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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
Attorney • (902) 423-2050

Medical Malpractice in Canada – How often does it happen?

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A famous study by Harvard Medical School determined that over half of all injuries caused by medical mismanagement in the United States (in other words, not caused by the patient’s initial injury or disease) were preventable, and another quarter of those incidents were caused by negligence.

A report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled: “The Canadian AdverseEvents Study: the incidence of adverse events in hospital patientsin Canada” confirmed the findings of similar studies in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand.

The Canadian study concluded:

  • 87,500 patients admitted annually to Canadian acute care hospitals experience an "adverse event" (doctors code words for a bad result or a mistake);
  • As many as 24,000 patients die each year due to adverse events;
  • 1 in 13 adult patients admitted to a Canadian hospital encounter an adverse event;
  • 1 in 19 adults will potentially be given the wrong medication or wrong dosage;
  • 37% of adverse events are “highly” preventable; and
  • 24% of preventable adverse events are related to medication error.

A report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) indicated that nearly one quarter of Canadian adults (5.2 million people) reported that they, or a member of their
family, had experienced a “preventable adverse event,” in other words, a medical error.

So according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal study there are more than 100,000 potential medical malpractice claims in Canada every year. How often does medical malpractice happen in Canada? A lot more often than people realize!

I’ll post more details in a future post that shows less than 2% of potential medical malpractice victims in Canada ever receive any form of compensation.