Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Medical Negligence Lawyers in Vancouver & Throughout British Columbia

As patients, we place enormous trust in doctors and other medical professionals to provide us with the best care. We instinctively accept their diagnoses, follow the treatments they recommend, and take the medications they prescribe.

The National Post reports that approximately 70,000 patients in Canada each year suffer serious injuries as a result of preventable medical errors. Research shows that preventable errors in Canada’s hospitals also account for up to 23,000 fatalities annually.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to malpractice, you need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to handle your claim. Klein Lawyers has been serving clients in complex litigation for over 20 years. Call (604) 874-7171 today for a free case evaluation. Our medical malpractice lawyers serve clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, and throughout British Columbia.

Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide proper medical care. The standard for proper care is based on the accepted practices within the medical profession.

It is important to understand that an adverse outcome is not automatically medical malpractice. Even a simple mistake on the part of a provider does not necessarily qualify as malpractice. Instead, the provider must be negligent in treating you.

Negligence is the failure to take proper care, resulting in harm to another. Healthcare providers may be negligent if their actions fail to meet the standards upheld by the medical profession. Examples include:

Given the high standards and inherently technical nature of healthcare, medical malpractice can be extremely difficult to prove. It is important to contact a lawyer who can build a strong case on your behalf.

Can You Sue a Doctor in B.C.?

Doctors are liable for the damages you and your family sustain as a result of medical malpractice. The term “doctor” encompasses a wide variety of different medical specialties, from general practitioners to surgeons.

You may be able to bring a malpractice claim against other medical providers as well, including:

  • Nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • Medical technicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Midwives
  • Physical therapists

If a medical provider works for a hospital, clinic, or other care centre, you may also be able to file a claim against the facility.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Vancouver, British Columbia

When Can I Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice refers to the failure of a doctor or other medical professional to uphold the standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. This is a very specific complaint, and it frequently results in catastrophic harm – including serious injury and even death – for patients.

There are many additional complaints patients may have against a doctor or other provider. However, in addition to educating patients on whether or not they have viable medical malpractice claims, Klein Lawyers also feels that it is important to explain what medical malpractice is NOT.

Some of the common questions we receive that generally do not give rise to a medical malpractice claim include:

Can I Sue My Doctor for Being Rude or Dismissive?

As patients, we have a right to expect that our doctor will be professional and attentive. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many patients leave a doctor’s appointment feeling angry, frustrated, and dismissed.

You can report unprofessional behaviour to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. There is no legal remedy for rudeness, unless you can prove that your doctor’s negative attitude or conduct breached the standard of care and caused you injury.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Not Treating Me on Time?

Long waits for appointments are a common complaint among patients throughout British Columbia. This is especially true since the beginning of the pandemic, with an overburdened healthcare system struggling to keep up with routine care and elective surgeries amid the influx of emergent cases.

Unfortunately, these issues can have an adverse effect on patients, resulting in cancelled or delayed appointments for preventative care and even non-emergent surgeries. This in turn can lead to health issues that go undiagnosed and lack of relief from chronic conditions.

However, delay or cancellation of treatment or a procedure due to factors outside of the medical profession’s control is not malpractice. Medical negligence claims concerning delayed diagnosis and treatment must stem from a provider’s failure to order the right tests, recommend an appropriate and timely treatment plan, etc.

Delays in necessary and possibly life-saving treatment are nothing to be ignored. Members of the Legislative Assembly, the media, and the public at large may be very interested in your story. However, unless you can produce compelling evidence that shows the negligence of one or more medical providers led to the delay, you probably don’t have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Can I Sue for Involuntary Treatment?

A patient’s wishes are of paramount concern in the course of medical treatment. Medical professionals have a duty to obtain the patient’s informed consent before initiating a course of treatment.

Conflicts can arise when a proposed medical intervention is contrary to the patient’s wishes. If this occurs, the doctor still has a duty to abide by the patient’s decision to refuse care. Failure to do so may expose the doctor to liability for assault and battery.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association defines assault and battery in the following medical-legal context:

“Battery is the intentional touching of another person without consent. Assault is an act which causes another person to reasonably fear they will suffer battery.

“The Supreme Court of Canada has restricted medical-legal claims of assault and battery to certain non-emergency situations. An example of such a situation is when a physician has carried out surgery or treatment on the plaintiff without consent, or has gone well beyond or has departed from the procedure for which consent was given.”

So, while patients may be able to sue when a physician violates their will, the circumstances under which a patient can bring a claim are limited.

Can I Sue for Involuntary Commitment?

Involuntary commitment is one of the most common scenarios where a patient’s wishes run counter to the medical profession. The Mental Health Act of British Columbia does establish criteria for when a patient can be admitted involuntarily:

  • Examination by a physician determines that the patient has a mental disorder (i.e., “a disorder of the mind that requires treatment and seriously impairs the person’s ability (a) to react appropriately to the person’s environment, or (b) to associate with others”)
  • The physician determines that the patient requires treatment at a “designated facility” (i.e., “a Provincial mental health facility, psychiatric unit or observation unit”)
  • A statement by the physician asserts that:
    • The patient “requires care, supervision and control in or through a designated facility to prevent the person’s or patient’s substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the protection of the person or patient or the protection of others”
      AND
    • The patient “cannot suitably be admitted as a voluntary patient”

If these criteria are met, the facility can admit the patient for “examination and treatment” for a period not to exceed 48 hours. The duration of detention can be extended to a period of up to one month as indicated by a second physician’s examination.

Mental health is a sensitive issue, and patients who are involuntarily admitted to a facility are often justifiably concerned about their rights, their reputation, and their freedom. You have the right to know where and why you have been committed, request a hearing by a review panel, seek a second opinion concerning your condition, and consult a lawyer.

If you believe your rights have been violated, you may be able to bring a claim. However, if the physicians involved in your care perform the steps described above for involuntary admission, you likely don’t have a viable claim for medical malpractice.

Can I Sue If I Am Dissatisfied with the Results of Surgery?

Patients have the right to sue if negligence on the part of a surgeon or other provider results in serious complications or injury. However, it is important to distinguish between adverse surgical outcomes that could and should have been prevented and unsatisfactory results from a properly performed procedure.

Although surgeons are held to a high standard, they are not expected to be perfect. Even a surgical procedure where everything goes right can result in scarring and results that don’t meet your expectations.

These issues don’t automatically indicate that the surgeon or a member of the surgical team made a mistake. Doctors can’t control how the body heals. As such, patients who are unhappy with the results of surgery – as opposed to those who have been injured by negligence – generally don’t have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Can I Sue for a Bad Reaction to a Cosmetic Procedure?

The field of cosmetic surgery has grown to include a number of non-surgical treatments, products, and procedures. From injectable fillers and wrinkle relaxers to laser skin treatments and non-invasive fat removal, many patients are choosing options that don’t require them to go “under the knife.”

Unfortunately, sometimes these non-surgical cosmetic procedures can lead to swelling, bruising, scarring, and other issues. The way a patient reacts to a treatment is sometimes unpredictable, so these side effects do not necessarily constitute malpractice on the part of the doctor. What’s more, you likely signed a waiver before treatment that bars you from suing in the event of a subpar outcome.

Can I Sue If a Loved One Dies as a Result of Medical Malpractice?

If a patient dies as a result of negligent medical care, surviving family members can bring a medical malpractice claim to recover damages. As with cases involving injury to a patient, the relatives of the deceased must prove that the patient’s death occurred due to the negligence of one or more medical providers to recover compensation.

The Family Compensation Act governs wrongful death claims in British Columbia. Although surviving family members can recover for pecuniary loss (i.e., economic damages), the law unfortunately makes no provision for the significant grief and mental anguish that accompanies the death of a loved one.

what-is-the-average-payout-for-medical-negligence-in-Vancouver

Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Although your medical team may tell you “We did all we could,” it is important not to take the provider’s word for it when it comes to your health or the health of a family member. If you believe something went wrong, trust your instincts and speak to a lawyer about your legal options.

Some of the most common medical malpractice claims involve:

Birth Injuries

For many parents, birth injuries permanently alter the future they expected for their child. Birth trauma can occur due to errors in the delivery room or in the course of prenatal care. A baby may also suffer an injury early in life, when the brain is developing and highly vulnerable.

Potential causes of birth injury include:

  • Failure to perform prenatal screening
  • Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infection
  • Failure to monitor fetal heart rate
  • Failure to monitor the mother for conditions such as preeclampsia
  • Errors in the administration of oxytocin (a medication that induces labour)
  • Delayed vaginal delivery
  • Delay of a medically necessary cesarean section (C-section)
  • Errors in the use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery

Types of birth injuries that may occur as a result of these errors include:

  • Cerebral palsy: Children with cerebral palsy may experience lifelong challenges when it comes to mobility, coordination, communication, and cognition. Lifetime support is often necessary.
  • Shoulder dystocia: Also known as a brachial plexus injury, shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal. Failing to free the shoulder through specialized manoeuvres or applying too much force during extraction can damage the nerves, potentially resulting in Erb’s palsy (paralysis and dysfunction of the arm) or Klumpke’s palsy (paralysis and dysfunction of the hand).
  • Bone fractures: Errors during the birthing process may result in broken bones. Fractures of bones in the skull, neck, back, arms, and legs can result in lifelong impairment if they are not diagnosed quickly and treated properly.
  • Oxygen deprivation: If the fetus is in distress, timely delivery is crucial. Errors and delays in the delivery of the baby can prolong the lack of oxygen, presenting a risk of brain injury, spinal cord injury, and death.
  • Facial paralysis: When nerves in the face are injured during delivery, your baby may experience loss of control or function of one or more areas of the face. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, palsy may affect the mouth, the eyes, and an entire section of the face.
  • Cephalohematoma: A cephalohematoma generally forms as a result of trauma during delivery. Blood vessels are ruptured inside the head between the skull and the scalp. Babies who suffer this injury are at a higher risk of anemia and jaundice, both of which can present serious health risks to a newborn.
  • Caput succedaneum: Babies born after a long and difficult labour may have an elongated appearance to their skulls. Known as caput succedaneum, this malformation typically resolves on its own. However, as with cephalohematoma, the injury is a risk factor for jaundice and anemia.

Pregnant women trust obstetricians and gynaecologists (doctors usually dual specialize as OBGYNs) to provide proper care for them and their babies during pregnancy and labour. Unfortunately, obstetrical and gynaecological malpractice often results in birth injuries and maternal injuries.

Vancouver Birth Injury Lawyer

Misdiagnosis

Most patients consider a doctor’s diagnosis the final word on their health. However, delayed diagnosis and the failure to diagnose a serious medical condition can have significant, sometimes fatal consequences.

A variety of different errors can result in misdiagnosis, including:

  • Failure to order the proper tests
  • Misreading test results
  • Errors in taking a patient’s medical and family history
  • Failure to refer the patient to a specialist
  • Failure to order X-rays, MRI, CT scan, and other imaging
  • Misreading imaging results

Doctors may fail to diagnose any type of injury or illness. Some of the most common conditions in misdiagnosis cases include:

  • Heart attacks: Patients who are suffering from a heart attack are often sent home from the emergency room without being properly evaluated. They often die at a later date from a subsequent heart attack that could have been prevented with proper medical care.
  • Cancer: When caught in the early stages, many cancers are highly treatable and have good survival rates. In the event of a diagnostic error, however, a patient may need more extensive or invasive treatment. Sometimes the cancer isn’t caught until it has spread, potentially progressing to the terminal stage.
  • Appendicitis: Patients with appendicitis typically go to the emergency room when the appendix is still intact. If detected in time, the appendix can be removed. If the condition is misdiagnosed, however, the appendix may rupture, presenting a serious risk of infection and requiring more extensive surgical intervention.

Whether the doctor failed to diagnose the condition or made the correct diagnosis but only after too much time has passed, you may be able to recover compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose Errors

Surgical Errors

Undergoing surgery can be a frightening experience. You have faith that the surgeons and other staff involved in the procedure are highly qualified and will treat you with the utmost care. Unfortunately, in spite of the limited margin of error in the operating room, surgical errors are a leading form of medical malpractice.

Some of the most common surgical errors at issue in medical malpractice claims include:

  • Failure to explain the risks of surgery
  • Failure to get the patient’s informed consent
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body (wrong-site surgery)
  • Performing the wrong operation (wrong-procedure surgery)
  • Operating on the wrong patient (wrong-patient surgery)
  • Performing an operation a patient doesn’t need (unnecessary surgery)
  • Leaving surgical equipment inside the patient
  • Damaging organs and tissue during surgery
  • Anaesthesia errors
  • Errors in post-surgical monitoring

Surgeons, anaesthesiologists, and other members of the surgical team may be liable for malpractice in the operating room.

Surgical Error and Hospital Malpractice Lawyers

Hospital Errors

A hospital in a major metropolitan area like Vancouver can serve thousands of patients every day. Each employee at the hospital is responsible for the care these patients receive, and they are subject to policies and procedures designed to minimize errors.

When hospital employees ignore procedures or fail to communicate, patients suffer. Serious errors in a hospital setting that may constitute medical malpractice include:

  • Medication and pharmacy errors: A doctor may fail to order the correct medicine for a patient, or the pharmacist may fill the wrong prescription. Patients may suffer adverse reactions after receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, or taking a drug to which they are allergic or one that interacts with other medications. Certain medications may also be misused to make patients more manageable.
  • Emergency room errors: ER workers often have the most stressful jobs in the hospital. Prompt, accurate decision-making and attention to detail are key for treating patients who are in distress. Errors such as a failure to prioritize patients, misdiagnosis, and failure to monitor patients may all be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
  • Nursing malpractice: Nurses perform a variety of vital tasks in caring for hospital patients. Procedural errors and failing to communicate with other members of staff can unnecessarily endanger the health of patients.
  • Defective or broken equipment: Modern medical care involves the use of a number of advanced devices. When these devices fail, hospital staff can miss critical health information. Hospital workers have a duty to maintain equipment and take it out of service in the event of a malfunction. The manufacturer of the equipment may also be liable if your injuries arose from a defect.
  • Falls in hospitals: Conditions on the grounds, floors, and corridors of a hospital should be clear to allow patients and staff to move safely. A dangerous condition on the property may cause a fall, which can exacerbate the injury or condition of a patient who is already in poor health.

The administrators of hospitals and other facilities may be liable for failing to develop and enforce patient care procedures. Administrative errors can make medical malpractice more likely to occur.

What Compensation Can I Recover in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

The damages you suffer as a result of a doctor or other provider’s negligence can be wide-ranging. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your claim and identify the compensation you may be able to recover.

At Klein Lawyers, we pursue full compensation for damages such as:

  • Current and future medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, therapy, and counselling
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Costs for long-term care, including home healthcare services and modifications to your home and vehicle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If your loved one died due to medical malpractice, our lawyers can pursue damages in a wrongful death claim. You may be entitled to compensation for losses such as:

  • Loss of economic support
  • Loss of household contributions
  • Medical expenses incurred before death
  • Funeral and burial or cremation expenses
  • Loss of support and society

Medical malpractice claims require thorough investigation of complicated evidence. Our lawyers will examine your medical records and enlist experts to determine how your injury or the death of your loved one occurred, whether violations of the standard of care was the cause, who is liable, and the compensation you and your family are due as a result of the malpractice.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in British Columbia Today

If you or a loved one received substandard medical care, you may be able to recover your losses through a medical malpractice claim. Klein Lawyers has extensive experience handling complicated litigation, and we have achieved significant, multi-million-dollar recoveries on behalf of clients who have been seriously injured in a variety of circumstances involving negligence.

Please call (604) 874-7171 today for a free, 100% confidential case evaluation. Our medical malpractice lawyers serve clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, and other areas of British Columbia.