A Penticton woman is taking her fight against life-threatening medical errors and how the Canadian health care system deals with medical malpractice to seniors’ centres across the province.
Teri McGrath, a retired nurse who experienced a medical error herself in hospital years ago, is hoping a new petition will make the provincial government take notice of the 30,000-plus people who die because of preventable medical errors each year.
In June, McGrath’s online petition on the Parliament of Canada E-petition website collected 844 signatures, 540 of which were from British Columbia. South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings presented it to the House of Commons in Ottawa. But because of the upcoming federal election, that petition is now “dead in the water,” McGrath explained.
In the federal government response to the petition, it states the quality and safety of health service delivery is the responsibility of provinces and territories but that the federal government can play a role. It points to a 1990 report that contains “several recommendations for consideration focused on no-fault compensation for medical malpractice.” But, to date, “no province or territory has introduced the system and provincial governments have not raised this issue.”
McGrath said taxpayer dollars are being used against taxpaying patients and families to pay lawyers to defend preventable medical errors causing injuries and deaths, and something needs to be done.
She wants the provincial government to take the lead in implementing no-fault healthcare compensation for medical malpractice in the country.
“There’s no-fault compensation with ICBC if you are in a car accident,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who caused it. But if you are banged up, you get help. That’s what we are looking for in the Canadian medical system.”
This week, with support from Liz Hansen at the Penticton Seniors’ Centre, McGrath is sending out the paper petition to roughly 38 senior centres across the province.
While she only needs 25 signatures, McGrath is hoping an amount in the hundreds will have a greater impact.
In early November, she plans to hand the signed petitions over to Liberal MLA Dan Ashton so he can bring the cause to the provincial legislature.
“We’re going to have a patient who has experienced a medical error and we’re going to hand it directly to Ashton,” she said. “This is non-partisan. This is not a specific Liberal or NDP issue. We’re hoping others will do the same thing with their petitions. The more MLAs who have this in their hand, I think the greater the impact.”
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