Part 4. When Doctors Are Charged, You Pay Their Legal Bills!
When celebrities like OJ Simpson are accused of a crime they are responsible for paying their legal bills. When mobster Al Capone was arrested in 1931 he had to pay for his legal defense. So did Conrad Black. And Alan Eagleson. This is the case for everyone. Right?
Wrong. If you are a doctor in Canada you enjoy legal protection of the highest caliber, funded by the taxpayers!
In September 2015 the Toronto Star published a scathing indictment of a secretive and largely unknown organization, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA). Their article was entitled “Suing a doctor? Your tax dollars will be used against you: Canadian physicians are backed by $3.2-billion war chest indirectly funded in part with public money.”
“Following a medical procedure, you find yourself suffering from a serious, unexpected health issue you believe was caused by negligence. You decide to sue your doctor for pain, suffering, loss of income and the costs of care. Here’s what you may not know: you won’t just have to pay your own lawyer. Your tax dollars will finance top-flight lawyers to vigorously defend your doctor and challenge your claims.”
Yes, readers, that’s right. The CMPA is a publicly funded defense organization for doctors accused of wrongdoing. Doctors pay fees to the CMPA and then are reimbursed a hefty percentage from the public coffers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year. CMPA financial statements show their membership revenue to be $566.2 million for 2016, and that expenditure has been steadily rising well ahead of the general rate of inflation. You paid most of that.
And just to add insult to injury, the egregious defense campaigns employed by the CMPA hired-gun lawyers financed out of their multi-billion dollar war chest are legendary. CMPA lawyers are notorious for their “scorched-earth” tactics of:
- deny the doctor did anything wrong
- delay, delay, delay
- attack the plaintiff
- appeal, appeal, appeal
You should also be aware the CMPA does not provide medical malpractice insurance. The CMPA provides high-priced lawyers to doctors. Very few doctors in Canada have actual liability insurance from bona fide insurance providers (they’d have to pay for that themselves). Instead, they rely on the publicly funded CMPA to get them out of any scrape they find themselves in.
And the CMPA’s financing of a doctor’s defense is not limited to medical malpractice issues; they also fund the defense of a doctor accused of civil or criminal offenses. Maimed a patient? Operated on the wrong body part? Slandered someone? Sexually assaulted a patient? Got nailed on a DUI? Committed OHIP fraud? Don’t worry – the CMPA lawyers are all over it. And don’t suppose that the doctor will lose his license to practice if convicted. The Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, those so-called regulators of MDs and protectors of public safety, are notoriously forgiving of errant, incompetent, and even criminal doctors.
And here’s another disturbing fact: it doesn’t matter how many civil or criminal predicaments a doctor finds himself in – the taxpayer-funded CMPA lawyers will be there for him time after time.
Is it possible that you have been an unwitting and involuntary participant in healthcare fraud? Find out in part 5 of our series…