Legal Mechanisms to Improve Quality of Care in Canadian Hospitals


  • Lorian Hardcastle Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law; Associate Director, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.



Tens of thousands of Canadians die each year as a result of preventable injuries sustained in hospitals. The patient safety literature suggests that we must implement systems and processes designed to prevent errors, rather than focusing on the mistakes of individual health professionals. Although the law tends to reinforce the provider-centric approach to errors, several law reforms have the potential to catalyze a systems-centric approach that finds support in the patient safety literature: shifting some liability from physicians to hospitals, reforming hospital governance practices, and reconsidering the legal relationship between physicians and hospitals.