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Patients who suffer from medical errors in Canada face 'rigged system,' critics say

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Medical errors aren’t uncommon in Canada. In 2013, 28,000 people died from safety incidents in acute and home care settings, according to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. Those preventable incidents may include errors with medication, preventable infections and injurious falls. Last year, more than 900 new medical lawsuits were filed in Canadian courts. About half of all medical mistakes are considered preventable, researchers say. In many cases, injured patients are unable to work and require financial assistance to pay the bills. 

The widespread problem has grown to epidemic levels in Canada, according to Kathleen Findlay, CEO and Founder of the Center for Patient Protection. “I think it is a national health care crisis and it’s not getting nearly the attention it deserves,” said Findlay, who founded the advocacy group after her mother suffered a series of medical errors during a six-month hospitalisation.

What’s worse, critics say, is that the system in place to hold doctors accountable is unfairly stacked against patients, who can only get compensation by taking legal action against their doctor. Critics say that doctors often have a financial leg up over patients thanks to the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), which has access to more than $3 billion to cover legal defense.

“I believe we have a rigged system that does more to help doctors than the patients they have harmed,” said Findlay, who described the CMPA as a Frankenstein-like creation designed specifically to help doctors. “We are paying as taxpayers for a healthcare system that harms us, and the perversity of it is that we have to pay again to defend the doctors who have done the harm. If that isn't perverse I don't know what is.”

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Source: CTV News, Canada, 14 July 2019

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