Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable people in our society, and as our population ages seniors will face mounting challenges. The prevalence of debilitating illnesses such as dementia is expected to rise in coming years, and the systems in place to care for older Canadians, already under pressure, may not be able to cope with an influx of new patients. Indeed, a recently announced civil lawsuit helps to illustrate the worrying state of senior care in our country – and provides plenty of reason for concern among medical malpractice lawyers.

The mass tort, which will be filed in 2019, includes 200 families seeking damages from Revera, Extendicare, and Sienna Senior Living, the nation’s three largest for-profit long-term care providers. The plaintiffs allege that their relatives received a less-than-acceptable standard of care during their stays, and that the facilities prioritized profits over patient outcomes.

One plaintiff, whose mother lived at an Extendicare home in Scarborough, discussed the suit with CTV News’s W5.

“She was in diapers. She was always wet and dirty,” Francis Yorke said. “To me, they didn’t keep the place clean because there was a cockroach in bed with my mom.”

Medical facilities such as hospitals, walk-in clinics, and long-term care residences are required to provide patients with safe, hygienic environments. However, medical malpractice lawyers in Canada understand that their area of law is notoriously complex and challenging, and as such evidence of an unclean unit may not be sufficient to bring a successful claim.

In order for a court to award damages for medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove that he or she was owed a duty of care by the defendant medical practitioner; that the defendant failed to deliver this duty of care; that the plaintiff’s injury was reasonably foreseeable; and that the defendant’s failure to provide the necessary standard of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries. This is a high threshold for any personal injury lawyer to meet.

In a statement to CTV, Extendicare said: “We care about the people and the families we serve, and our staff work to provide them with comfort, care and compassion when it is most needed. We do not believe that the lawsuit or the damages sought in it have merit and are vigorously defending ourselves against the claim.”

Revera and Sienna expressed similar sentiments in separate statements. Of course, if they are found to have delivered substandard care, they should have no difficulty compensating the plaintiffs: Extendicare and Sienna alone report combined profits in excess of $1.5-billion; Revera does not disclose financial information.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury at a long-term care residence or any other medical facility, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers team of medical malpractice lawyers today to learn how we can help.

Greg Neinstein