A case from 2021 brought before the Ontario Court of Appeals highlights the importance of obtaining the right medical expert.
In 1999, a child was diagnosed with severe hydrocephalus. During a check-up for the child, the family doctor noted that the child’s head circumference increased out of proportion to his increase in weight. The mother of the child claims she raised concerns about his head size and the family doctor maintains that the mother did not raise concerns as the concerns would have been recorded.
The mother took her son to a walk-in clinic and a doctor there noted that the child’s head was abnormally large. The doctor at the walk-in clinic does not recall meeting with the plaintiff’s family but references notes from their visit which indicates that he would have explained his concern and recommended the mother take her child to the hospital. According to the mother, the family doctor told her everything was fine and the child was in good health.
A family friend of the plaintiff, a pediatric nurse, expressed concern for the child’s head and the child then saw a pediatrician who diagnosed him with hydrocephalus.
Plaintiff sued the defending doctors for medical malpractice, alleging that the doctor was negligent in providing delayed diagnosis and treatment. The trial judge found the defendants had met the standard of care and the action was dismissed.
The plaintiffs then appealed and the Court of appeal found the defendants’ witness exceeded the scope of their expertise when providing their opinion. This was deemed a failure to demonstrate impartiality and the verdict was overturned, ordering a new trial.
Read the full case here.
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