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CTV Reports Misleading Information about Medical Malpractice Claims

Recently CTV News posted a report titled Study: Only 1 in 5 Medical Malpractice Cases Pay. The report may lead Canadians to believe that as many as 20% of Canadian medical malpractice victims receive compensation for their injuries. The story caught my eye because the headline, based on my experience as a medical malpractice lawyer in Canada, seemed wildly inaccurate.

Upon reading the story I found that it was based on an American study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Unfortunately, CTV News did not analyze the results or point out that there are distinct differences between the United States and Canada when it comes to medical malpractice litigation.

In the United States, doctors are, for the most part, insured by “for profit” companies. In other words, the same type of insurance companies that insure your car or house.

These companies have shareholders who expect them to make profits and pay dividends. As a result, if an American malpractice insurer has a claim that is worth $500,000 and they know they can settle it for $250,000 it makes financial sense to consider settling the claim.

Similarly, if the insurer is defending a claim that is only worth $50,000 but it will cost $200,000 to defend the case, they may consider settling the case to save the defense costs.

That is not to say medical malpractice claims in the United States are easy to win. They are not, as the CTV story points out.

However medical malpractice litigation in the United States is very different than in Canada. In Canada, all doctors are defended by a not-for-profit defense fund called The Canadian Medical Protective Association. The CMPA’s sole purpose is to help doctors defend medical malpractice claims.

According to their most recent annual report, the CMPA has more than 3 billion dollars in assets it can use to defend medical malpractice claims.

In other words, compared to the average medical malpractice victim, the CMPA has unlimited resources.

Since the CMPA does not have shareholders it needs to account to, and is not in business to make a profit, it can and will spend more to defend a claim than it would cost to settle the claim.

So for example if the CMPA is defending a case that is worth $50,000 it can afford to spend $250,000 (or whatever it takes) to fight the claim.

In my last post Medical Malpractice in Canada – How often does it happen? I showed that medical errors account for more than 100,000 potential medical malpractice claims in Canada every year.

The C.M.P.A. annual reports brag about it’s success in defending claims brought against doctors. In the past five years, 3089 claims were dismissed or abandoned because the
victim or his or her family quit, ran out of money, or died before trial.

Some Frightening Statistics

  • Of the 521 cases that went to trial only 116 resulted in a verdict for the Plaintiff victim. In other words, only twenty-two percent (22%) of medical malpractice plaintiffs actually won their trial.
  • For the few victims who won at trial, the median damage award was only $117,000.00.
  • In 2009 the C.M.P.A. spent 76 million dollars on legal fees to defend doctors in law suits across Canada.
  • Of more than 4000 lawsuits filed against doctors, only two percent (2%) resulted in trial verdicts for the victim.

In other words, ninety eight percent (98%) of potential Canadian medical malpractice victims never received a penny in compensation!

Want to Know More About Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada?

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries that you think may be due to medical malpractice you can buy a copy of my book Health Scare:The Consumer’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada ( Why 98% of Canadian Medical Malpractice Victims Never Receive a Penny in Compensation) on

Or you can email me through this blog or call toll free in Atlantic Canada 1-877-423-2050 and we will send you a copy, at no charge, anywhere in the Maritimes.

Read Health Scare:The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada and learn the answers to these questions:

•What is medical malpractice?
•What do I need to prove to win my case?
•What is the Standard of Care and why is it important?
•Top 10 reasons medical malpractice victims in Canada never receive compensation.
•How do I find a qualified medical malpractice lawyer?


  1. Jeez John, and I was pissed and depressed about we southerners! Welcome to the IB blogosphere; this is a very informative and extremely exasperating article. Thanks for sharing. Regards, Mark

  2. Gravatar for Ben

    These statistics are pretty staggering! Dang, only 2%? That's so low. I can't believe CTV didn't analyze the report more thoroughly.

  3. Gravatar for John McKiggan

    Mark it's like David vs. Goliath. Only Goliath is on steroids.

    Given the defendant's unlimited resources, there's a real need for services like yours to help level the playing field.

  4. Gravatar for John McKiggan

    Ben: The Canadian statistics are hard to find. They aren't widely published so the media simply reports on what is available. Unfortunately it's all American information which doesn't always apply up here. As the current story shows.


  5. If I try to fix your car and I botch the job and it is worse than when you gave it to me to fix, I should pay for the repair. Why doesn't that apply to doctors and hospitals?

  6. Gravatar for John McKiggan

    Exactly Wayne, and my auto mechanic doesn't lobby for legislation to protect him from liability when he apologizes for making a mistake.

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