Physicians face a myriad of challenges. Diagnostic procedures and tests may be imperfect. The patient’s signs and symptoms may not lead to a clear diagnosis, even by the most skilled practitioner. Treatments may have certain benefits accompanied by serious side effects. The medical profession may have significant differences of opinion about the merits of diagnostic procedures and treatments. The science behind diagnosis and treatment is not always clear. Surgery is risky, even in the hands of a skilled surgeon. Therefore, patients cannot be guaranteed a successful outcome. The patient has legal redress only when a physician’s actions fall below a reasonable standard of care. The aggrieved patient must also show that the physician’s negligence made a material difference in his or her prognosis.
Determining whether a physician is negligent requires a thorough and prompt review of hospital and clinical records and obtaining the opinions of highly regarded physicians. Often, this requires the plaintiff obtaining opinions from outside of British Columbia, including the United States.
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