In our last blog post, we discussed the report of Mr. Justice Gouge on the physician complaint process. The second referral to Mr. Justice Stephen Goudge in March of 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Long Tem Care (the Ministry) was to conduct a review of the civil justice system concerning the management and handling of medical malpractice actions. The Ministry's concern was the ever increasing cost of such litigation and the length of time it was taking to achieve a resolution. Although the delay in receiving compensation was the Ministry's main concern, this delay before closure issue also encompassed actions that were dismissed without compensation being received again after considerable delay.
The report was released just over one year ago. It found that the total number of malpractice actions in Ontario had remained relatively constant since 1990. However, the costs associated with those actions over the years had increased by four to five times what they were in 1990. This increase in cost was related to the defence costs for lawyers and the damage awards paid to resolve the cases. This analysis did not account for inflation. The report was also limited based on the reliance on anecdotal evidence and the absence of any empirical data.
Despite the passage of one year, none of the recommendations have been acted upon by the government. Whether they will be in the future is anyone's guess. However, the present government appears bound to reducing costs wherever it can. The recommendations may appeal to the Ministry shortly or least during their mandate. We will keep following any developments that occur.
For more information about medical malpractice litigation, or if you have other health law related questions, contact the health law litigators at Wise Health Law for forward-thinking, expert advice about health law matters and related litigation. We have significant trial and appellate experience and are passionate about helping health professionalsand health care organizations understand and protect their legal rights. Contact us online or at 416-915-4234for a consultation.
Earlier this year, Wise Health Law succeeded on a motion for summary judgment in a dental malpractice case on the basis that the limitation period had expired before the Statement of Claim was issued. The (unreported) decision was delivered orally on the day of the motion.
In part, the plaintiff argued that she did not discover her claim until the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (the “RCDSO” or “College”) rendered its decision, as she did not know if the defendant was negligent when she complained to the RCDSO, but merely had a “suspicion”.
In the midst of COVID-19, the proceedings of many health colleges, and consequently of the health professionals they regulate, have been in limbo while everyone finds a way forward.
On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government enacted the Hearings in Tribunal Proceedings (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 (the “Act”) to help the process along.
The Act empowers statutory tribunals with more discretion over how proceedings before them are held.
Effective 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, the Ontario government ordered the closure of “non-essential” workplaces. The list of “essential” workplaces included “health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists”.
The College of Chiropractors of Ontario (“CCO”) interprets this list as including chiropractors, and we agree.
So the question becomes – what is “emergency care”?