Medical Negligence

In the health care profession, errors in judgement and mistakes sometimes occur causing injury and loss. In circumstances where an adverse outcome could have been avoided and negligence can be shown on the part of the treatment provider or a hospital, an injured person should be entitled to pursue compensation to assist (as far as a monetary award can) in redressing that loss.

Types of medical negligence claims

  • Medical misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition.
  • Failure to refer for further investigations or specialist advice.
  • Failure to warn and provide full disclosure of the risks associated with surgery or a medical procedure.
  • Claims against hospitals for example the failure of a hospital to treat medical emergencies, discharging patients from hospital without adequate review, errors and omissions such as mixing up patient records.
  • Botched surgery, including cosmetic and dental surgery.
  • Obstetrics, gynaecology, and paediatrics – pregnancy and birth-related issues.
  • Defective medical products.

Medical negligence claims are complex and challenging, with a range of factors to consider when assessing the likely success of a claim and providing detailed advice to a person who has suffered due to the negligence of a health care provider.

This is an extremely upsetting time for a patient who has not only had to deal with the injuries sustained, but the feelings of vulnerability and loss of confidence in his or her doctor or specialist.

Pursuing a medical negligence claim

In pursuing a negligence claim generally, the starting point is that the ‘wrongdoer’ owed the injured person a duty to take reasonable care – while this is typically accepted in a doctor / patient relationship, it is only the first element to be proven.

The injured person must also establish a breach of that duty of care by proving that the medical provider was negligent. It must be shown that the medical provider failed to do what a reasonable person practising in the same field would have done. Thus, if a doctor has complied with a generally accepted standard within a particular area of expertise, or with the standard of a reasonable person practising in the same specialty, it may be difficult to establish negligence.

If negligence is proven, it must also be established that the negligence actually caused the harm suffered by the patient. In some cases, this can be particularly challenging as many patients who seek health treatment already have a pre-existing health condition and it may be difficult to establish that the patient is worse off as a result of the negligent treatment.

This will generally require an assessment of a patient’s likely prospects for recovery or likely outcome after treatment, had the negligence not occurred and will generally involve complex medical questions and require expert evidence.

Medical negligence claims are subject to strict time limits, and the road to obtaining adequate compensation can be a long one. In such cases, we will provide the support, expertise, and guidance necessary to fight for your rights and pursue maximum compensation for your losses.

If you need any assistance contact one of our lawyers at reception@thurlowfisher.com.au or call (02) 9708 2222 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.