Victim wins B.C. medical malpractice case involving stomach ulcer

Medical malpractice is the departure of a doctor or other medical professional from the appropriate standard of care, thereby causes injury to a patient.

In February 2019, the CBC reported that a man was awarded $888,000 in a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor. The CBC reported that the doctor who treated him for acute pain from Crohn's disease admitted not adhering to the medical standard of care when prescribing a strong medication.

Several medical experts as well as economists testified at the trial. The monetary award was mainly to cover future medical costs and loss of future income. In some medical negligence cases, damages can also include those for pain and suffering.

In 2011, the patient, then in his 20s, went to a suburban Vancouver hospital for stomach pain, where he was prescribed ketorolac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, or NSAID, for acute pain. His condition deteriorated after beginning the drug and he asked to be moved to a different hospital.

There, physicians discovered he had a ruptured ulcer that required surgical repair. The ulcer was eventually attributed to the ketorolac prescription. He ended up spending a couple of months in the second hospital from severe complications from the ulcer surgery, including internal bleeding that required blood transfusions.

As a result, the patient is now considered permanently disabled. He regularly experiences severe pain and has developed posttraumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, a mental impairment with potentially severe symptoms often related to a traumatic event.

The CBC quotes an involved Supreme Court justice who said that she found the medical negligence had a "devastating impact on [the plaintiff's] life ... Without the prescribing error ... it is more likely than not that [he] ... would have worked and been a contributing member of society." Instead, he is "totally disabled, homebound and isolated."

Medical malpractice in British Columbia

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care provider does not adhere to the proper professional standard and the lapse in judgment results in treatment that harms the patient. The standard of care can vary depending on the medical specialty involved.

Examples of potential types of medical malpractice include:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnoses
  • Surgical mistakes
  • Hospital or doctor negligence
  • Pharmaceutical errors or failure to advise of or monitor for medication side effects
  • Failure to get informed consent from the patient, meaning the doctor must communicate the risks of a treatment and other options before the patient consents to it
  • And others

A medical malpractice case involves the use of expert witnesses, who provide evidence of the correct medical standard of care and an analysis of whether the medical professional in question adhered to that standard.

Anyone wondering if they are the victim of medical malpractice should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible as there are deadlines to filing such lawsuits.

The lawyers at Sugden, McFee & Roos LLP in downtown Vancouver represent clients harmed by medical malpractice in the Lower Mainland and across British Columbia.