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Broken Physician Reporting System Leaves Patients Vulnerable

NJ birth injury lawyerDespite ongoing investigations and negative court findings, certain OB/GYNs continue to practice medicine in Canada. Secrecy surrounding the reporting system in the country leaves patients in the dark about the competency of their physicians, making them vulnerable to possible mistakes in the delivery room.

A new investigation by the Toronto Star and Ryerson University found that complaints and reports of complications involving OB/GYNs in Canada tend to remain a bit of a mystery. Information about complaints is difficult for patients to obtain, because it is not typically released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons unless disciplinary action is taken against the surgeon.

The investigation was launched after a reporter from the Toronto Star noticed an extraordinarily high rate of cases involving OBs and GYNs continued to surface when he spoke with medical malpractice attorneys. Many of those cases involved multiple complaints against the same physician. Despite those complaints, these physicians were still operating their practices and providing medical services to patients.

Physicians keep medical licenses, despite complaints

According to the investigation, at least 40 Canadian obstetricians and gynecologists still have their licenses to practice medicine, despite disciplinary actions or restrictions placed on the physicians. Issues varied from malpractice leading to patient injuries to reports of sexual abuse by the physicians.

Examples of physicians included in this investigation included one Scarborough gynecologist who had a class action lawsuit involving 99 plaintiffs filed against him. Allegations included botched and unnecessary surgeries that left his patients with serious and even permanent injuries. Another OB/GYN from London faces 55 civil lawsuits, all alleging substandard care. Two of the plaintiffs have accused the doctor of causing birth injuries to their son during his delivery that have left him with lifelong developmental problems and learning disabilities.

Still another OB/GYN from Brampton faced more than 40 allegations of malpractice in 2001 and 2005 that resulted in stillbirths and removal of a patient’s ovaries without her consent. The court ordered the physician to be supervised for one year and prohibited him from acting as a primary surgeon. However, the court failed to label the physician a “repeat offender,” and refused to revoke his medical license.

Birth injuries overview

Birth injuries are a relatively uncommon occurrence. According to a Medscape report, injuries occur in approximately 6-8 live births in the United States. However, when birth injuries do occur, they can be lifelong and completely shattering for the child and the entire family. The cost of these injuries can also be extremely high, particularly when the child requires ongoing medical care throughout his entire life. Dr. John Kingdom, chair of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, sums it up this way to the Toronto Star, “Surviving is significantly more expensive than dying.”

One of the most devastating conditions that occurs as a result of a birth trauma is cerebral palsy, a condition that involves permanent brain damage and motor disability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that cerebral palsy occurs in 1.5-4 percent of all births that occur across the globe. In severe cases, the children are never able to care for themselves, requiring 24-hour care over their lifetimes.

When birth injuries occur as a result of mistakes or negligence in the delivery room, parents may choose to file a lawsuit against the attending physician, medical staff or the hospital to pursue damages for their child’s injuries, medical costs and other economic and non-economic losses.

  1. The Star, The High Cost of OB/GYN Mistakes in Ontario,

  2. Canada AM, Fractured System Makes Tracking OB/GYN Mistakes Difficult: Investigation,

  3. Medscape, Birth Trauma,

  4. CDC, Data & Statistics for Cerebral Palsy,