Category: Disclosure of Errors

Most People will be misdiagnosed in their lifetime: Why aren’t doctors more concerned?

by John McKiggan

Proper medical treatment requires proper diagnosis

It goes without saying that getting the right diagnosis is the first step in receiving proper medical care. Obviously if a patient isn’t properly diagnosed then the treatment they receive isn’t likely to address their illness or condition (except perhaps by chance).

So medical misdiagnosis is a serious threat to patient safety. In fact medical misdiagnosis is the number one cause of medical malpractice lawsuits in Canada.

Diagnostic errors costly: Medical malpractice claims in Canada vs. United States

by John McKiggan

Misdiagnosis a common cause of malpractice claims

According to a recent study in the Journal BMJ Quality & Safety, diagnostic errors (medical misdiagnosis) are the biggest cause of medical malpractice payouts in the United States.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed a 25 year data base of malpractice claims compiled by the NatioPractitioneroner Database. The database contained details of 350,706 medical malpractice claims between 1986 and 2010.The study also measured the frequency, severity and costs of different medical malpractice occurrences.

Exceptions to Implied Undertaking Rule and Confidentiality of Discovery Transcripts: Meuwissen v. Perkin

by John McKiggan

This month the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario released an interesting decision in a medical malpractice case Meuwissen v. Perkin. As a Nova Scotia medical malpractice lawyer, I found the case interesting because it deals with some unique issues of production that I have not run into in a medical malpractice claim in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick where I do most of my cases.

Implied Undertaking Rule

In Canada, we have what is known as the “implied undertaking rule”. What that means is there is an implied promise that information collected in the course of a lawsuit will not be disclosed to anyone who is not a party to the litigation.

Most Hospital Mistakes Never Reported

by John McKiggan

Medical malpractice lawyers know most potential victims of medical malpractice never file a claim. Recently a report by ABC News has confirmed that in the United States more than 80% of hospital errors are not reported by hospital employees.

Hospitals Don’t Learn From Mistakes?

The report analyzed data from hospitalized Medicare patients. Investigators determined even when mistakes were reported hospitals rarely changed their policies or practices to prevent repeated errors. Hospitals usually claimed that errors were not due to “systemic quality problems”.

Patient Safety: 10 Tips to Prevent Diagnostic Errors

by John McKiggan

A diagnostic error, or misdiagnosis, happens when a doctor (or other health care professional) reaches an incorrect conclusion about what is wrong with you.

In Canada up to 7.5% of patients experience some form of diagnostic error.

Why Diagnostic Errors Happen

Patient Safety Website Up and Running

by John McKiggan

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute, a non-profit organization, has created a new website designed to provide the public and health care providers with patient safety information from around the world.

The website is located at

The goal of the website is to provide access to safety advisories, alerts and other resources as well as to allow users to share information to help enhance patient care and protection.

Quebec Orders Hospitals to Disclose Medical Errors

by John McKiggan

Quebec became the first province in Canada to require hospitals to publicly disclose medical errors. Quebec’s Department of Health and Social Services has announced a new registry that will collect standardized data from 275 hospitals across the province.

The system will document all reported medical errors including:

1. Patient falls;
2. Supply problems; and
3. Medical record errors.

Doctors Trying to Protect Reputations by Limiting Patients Speech

by John McKiggan

Doctors are still doing everything they can to prevent patients from posting negative comments on doctor ratings websites like Rate MDs.

I have discussed how some doctors in the United States require patients to sign a contract agreeing not to post negative comments about the doctor online before the doctor will agree to treat the patient: Doctors Forcing Patients to Sign Gag Orders.

One doctor sued her own patient for posting a negative review of the care provided by the doctor:Doctor Sues to Silence Patient .

Negligent Nurse Who Lost License Still Working in Canada

by John McKiggan

In 2001 Spencer Sullivan had elective surgery for neck and back pain at the University of California San Francisco Medical Centre. The surgery went well and there were no complications.

Negligent Nursing Care

But while Sullivan was in the hospital recuperating his nurse, Rose McKenzie, gave him two different types of pain medication without checking with the doctors who were in charge of Sullivan’s care. McKenzie then failed to monitor Sullivan throughout the night.

NL Radiologist Suspended for Second Time

by John McKiggan

X-Ray Errors

Central Newfoundland Regional Health Authority has suspended a radiologist for the second time since 2007. Dr. John Ozoh was removed from his duties after a review of 2,500 of Ozoh’s radiology reports. 20% of the reports required “edits” and 120 of the errors were:
“…potentially clinically significant,”
according to the Health Authority.

Does “Clinically Significant” Mean Dangerous?