The COVID-19 pandemic has put the Greater Toronto Area’s already-stressed hospitals under added pressure. In addition to being on the front lines of an unprecedented global health emergency, healthcare workers are also responsible for treating patients with non-COVID injuries and illnesses. As many medical malpractice lawyers feared, some of these patients are slipping through the cracks.
In April, YorkRegion.com reported on the case of Michael Pierce, a criminal lawyer who lived and worked in Markham. According to his law partner, Mustafa Sheikh, Pierce developed a foot infection in early March. Later that month, after the province’s courts were closed, Pierce visited Scarborough Health Network’s Birchmount campus for treatment. He was given antibiotics and sent home the same day.
Between then and mid-April, Pierce’s condition deteriorated. His symptoms included severe pain, lost vision, and hallucinations. On the 14th, his mother drove him back to the hospital. He was again discharged on the same day.
That evening, a nurse visited Pierce’s home to check on his condition. She administered an injection. Later that night, Pierce passed away. His family is considering a wrongful death claim against the hospital. They believe he would not have been discharged so quickly and might still be alive under normal circumstances.
“He was young, he had issues, but nothing that should have caused his death,” Sheikh told YorkRegion.com. “He went to the hospital a second time because it wasn’t working. He was in so much pain, there’s no way he should have been discharged.”
Deaths related to delayed diagnoses or early discharges are well known to experienced medical malpractice lawyers. Although it is difficult to say from the available information if malpractice occurred in this case, Pierce’s death is an example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed flaws and weaknesses in our provincial healthcare system. Ontario’s hospital nurses and doctors are routinely overworked at the best of times. It was inevitable that medical errors would occur during the pandemic.
“They say our medical system (in Canada) is so good,” Sheikh said. “But this is about someone falling through the cracks. It’s hard to see someone of his calibre not get the medical attention he deserved.”
If you or someone you know has been injured in a medical setting, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers will review your case, explain your legal options, and, if we are hired, provide guidance and support throughout the legal process.