Retired nurse Teri McGrath is hoping to draw attention to the large number of medical errors in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Teri McGrath)

Okanagan woman hopes to bring attention to high number of medical errors in Canada

Retired nurse requires over 300 signatures for petition with June 13 deadline

A Penticton woman is hoping a petition will bring attention to the large number of life-threatening medical errors in Canada and result in changes.

Retired nurse Teri McGrath’s bad experience at the Penticton Regional Hospital in 2014 spurred her research, which includes access-to-information requests, media reports and medical studies, into how many medical mistakes like hers happen in Canada — the results astonished her.

READ MORE: ‘Medicare for All’s’ rich benefits ‘leapfrog’ other nations

“The bottom line is 30,000 people plus die every year from medical errors in Canada,” she said. “It is the third leading cause of death over cars accidents and opioids. The first is heart, the second is cancer and the third is medical errors.”

That number is according to the Toronto-based University Health Network which also says the cost to Canadians for preventable medical harm in acute care is $396 million every year.

McGrath’s petition currently has 187 signatures and she needs 500 before it can go in front of the House of Commons. The deadline is June 13.

She said she also learned that the publicly funded Medical Services Commission, which manages B.C.’s Medical Services Plan, gave $51 million to the Canadian Medical Protective Association Rebate Program in 2017 and 2018. The money is used to help defend doctors against medical errors.

All this means that taxpayer dollars are being used against taxpaying patients and families to pay lawyers to defend preventable medical errors causing injuries and deaths, McGrath said.

READ MORE: Man wins $888,000 from B.C. doctor for medication error that left him ‘totally disabled’

The most recent statistics McGrath points to show that only two per cent of 4,000 lawsuits had verdicts for the victim, which means patients who experience these tragedies, in most case, get nothing.

“That would be like being in a car accident and never getting any compensation for it, even though it was the other guy’s fault and you’re dead or you can’t walk anymore. You get compensation from a car accident but when it is a medical error, you get nothing,” she said.

Seven progressive countries successfully use no fault health care compensation to support patients who have been injured or die due to preventable medical errors, she said.

“I’m trying to get changes,” she said. “I tried to get this issue on the Standing Committee on Health and didn’t get a response. They wouldn’t even answer. But I am determined to get on that committee.”

The petition is available online.

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