Patients place their trust in their doctors to look after and treat them properly. If you feel that your doctor has not provided you with quality care, read on to find out more about legal remedies available to you if your doctor violates the doctor/patient relationship.
The doctor/patient relationship is always unequal as there is a consistent imbalance of power between both parties. Doctors are always regarded as having more power in the relationship because as a patient, it is often required of you to reveal emotional and physical details about yourself. This often leaves the patients in a state of vulnerability or dependence. Patients also have the right to place their trust in their doctors, and rely on the belief that their doctors will act in their best interests. Any breach of trusts by one doctor may affect the patient’s ability to trust other doctors.
In light of all these factors, the law has deemed that doctors owe their patients a duty of care.
Duty of Care
All patients are owed a duty of care by their doctors. Legally, this duty of care requires that doctors must exercise reasonable medical care in treating their patients. This means that doctors should use their professional skill and judgement to provide competent medical treatment and advice to their patients.
What is Medical Negligence (also known as Medical Malpractice)?
Medical Negligence (or Medical Malpractice) occurs when a doctor causes injury or harm to a patient under their care through an act or omission. This act or omission, such as treatment or a failure to provide treatment, must be below the acceptable standard of practice in the Australian medical community.
Not all medical errors are considered as negligent. A error is only considered as negligent when the doctor has failed to take reasonable care.
What are some examples of Medical Negligence?
- Negligent medical treatment or surgery
Occurs when the doctor’s treatment causes a patient further injury, when such an injury should not have occurred.
- Failure to correctly diagnose (misdiagnosis)
Occurs when the doctor has failed to consider all of a patient’s symptoms or medical history and, as a result, fails to provide a correct diagnosis.
- A correct diagnosis, but in an untimely manner
Occurs when a doctor has correctly diagnosed the patient, but the diagnosis did not occur in a timely manner.
- Failure to warn or failure seek informed consent
Occurs when the doctor’s treatment may not have been negligent, but the doctor has failed to warn the the patient of all the risks and, had the patient had known of the risks, they would not have gone ahead with the treatment and therefore suffered injury
- Medical product liability
Occurs when a patient’s medical product or device is faulty
Am I eligible for a Medical Negligence Claim?
A Medical Negligence claim may be available to you if you are a victim of Medical Negligence, and wish to receive compensation.Doctors are not the only medical professionals who a Medical Negligence claim can be brought against. Other medical professionals subject to negligence claims include:
Medical Negligence claims are subject to time limits, so if you believe you are a victim of Medical Negligence, get in touch with Schreuder Partners today.
What is required to make a Medical Negligence Claim?
To establish there was Medical Negligence, the following must be proven:
- The doctor’s treatment does not adhere to reasonable medical care
- The doctor’s treatment caused the victim to suffer physical or psychological harm
It also must be established, on the balance of probabilities, that if the doctor’s negligent treatment had not been performed, the victim’s injuries would have been avoided.
What is reasonable medical care?
In proving that a doctor’s treatment was negligent, it must be proven that the treatment was of reasonable care. What courts consider as “reasonable medical care” is whether the doctor did or did not meet Australian standards in the medical community, and this judgement is based on the opinion of a large number of other respected doctors in the same field.
What compensation can I receive?
Compensation will vary depending on the individual circumstances, and are calculated on the amount of harm or loss suffered, rather than on the degree of negligence.
You may be compensated for:
- Past and future medical treatment and surgery expenses
- Cost of care provided by a professional, or by friends and family
- Loss of past and future earnings
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of life expectation