Have you had a bad experience with your healthcare professional? Did you suffer an injury due to something your healthcare professional did or failed to do? We all have the right to trust our health care professionals to look after us properly, and if you feel you have been injured as a result of negligent medical treatment, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
Read on to find out more about your rights and what legal remedies are available to you.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical Negligence (also known as Medical Malpractice) occurs when a health care professional causes injury or harm to a patient under their care through an act or omission, and this act or omission (such as treatment or a failure to provide treatment) falls below the acceptable standard of practice of the Australian medical community.
What are some examples of Medical Negligence?
Some examples of Medical Negligence include, but are not limited to:
- Performing medical treatment or surgery without reasonable care or skill
When the healthcare professional’s treatment causes a patient further injury, when such an injury should not have occurred in the first place.
- Errors in prescriptions or medications
When the healthcare professional has given the patient the incorrect prescription or medication.
- Failure to correctly diagnose (misdiagnosis)
When the healthcare professional has failed to consider all of a patient’s symptoms or medical history and, as a result, fails to provide a correct diagnosis.
- Providing a correct diagnosis, but in an untimely manner
When the healthcare professional has correctly diagnosed the patient’s condition, but the diagnosis did not occur in a timely manner.
- Failure to warn or advise of all associated risks
When the healthcare professional has failed to warn the the patient of all the risks and, had the patient known of the risks, would not have gone ahead with the treatment and therefore suffered an injury.
- Medical product liability
When a patient’s medical product or device is faulty.
What is required to make a Medical Negligence Compensation claim?
When lodging a Medical Negligence Compensation claim, the following must be proven:
- Duty of care: There was a duty of care owed to the patient by the healthcare professional.
- Standard of care: The healthcare professional’s actions or omissions did not reasonably meet the standard of care in Australia.
- Causation and Damages: The healthcare professional’s actions or omissions caused the victim to suffer physical or psychological harm, and this harm was reasonably foreseeable by the health care professional. It must also be established that if the healthcare professional’s negligent treatment had not been performed, the patient’s injuries would have been avoided.
Duty of Care
The law has deemed that healthcare professionals owe their patients a duty of care. Legally, this duty of care requires that healthcare must exercise reasonable medical care in treating their patients and should use their professional skill and judgement to provide competent medical treatment and advice.
Standard of Care
In proving that a healthcare professional’s treatment was negligent, it must be proven that the treatment did not meet the standard of care. What courts consider as acceptable standard of care is whether the healthcare professional did or did not reasonably meet the Australian standards of the medical community. This judgement is based on the opinion of a large number of other respected healthcare professionals in the same field.
Causation and Damages
It must be established that any harm or injury the victim suffered was caused due to the negligent medical treatment, and that the injury would not have occurred even if there was no negligence.
How much compensation you can receive for these damages will vary depending on your individual circumstances, and are calculated based on the amount of harm or loss you have suffered, rather than on the degree of negligence.
You may receive compensation 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
Who can a Medical Negligence Compensation claim be brought against?
A Medical Negligence Compensation claim can be brought against a healthcare professionals such as:
These healthcare professionals are required to have Professional Indemnity Insurance in the event of a negligence lawsuit, and therefore their insurance company will usually pay the victim’s compensation.