Doctor’s negligence – The unfortunate outcome
DOCTOR’S NEGLIGENCE – THE UNFORTUNATE OUTCOME
The medical treatment we receive today in Australia is of a very high standard. Generally speaking we can have confidence in the medical treatment that is provided to us. Like any profession however there are some doctors who may not perform at as high a standard as their colleagues. Further, any practitioner is liable to make a mistake and in some instances, mistakes can be considered negligence. On some occasions, the consequences of negligent treatment can be severe.
It is important to obtain early experienced advice from a lawyer. The reality is that with medical treatment there are indeed risks in undergoing certain procedures. Sometimes a negative outcome occurs and it is through no fault of the doctor or the hospital where you may be receiving treatment. For us it is common to have to advise a client that although they have had an unfortunate outcome from a procedure, they can do nothing about it legally as it was simply an accepted risk of the procedure.
It is not always easy to know whether the unfortunate outcome is simply a risk of the procedure or whether there has been negligence involved. Expert evidence will in most instances be required. The usual protocol to follow if a claim is pursued, is to give the doctor or hospital notification of the claim. They are then required to provide copies of all their records. The claimant then has 12 months in which to secure supportive expert medical opinion. If this supportive expert opinion cannot be obtained, the claim will proceed no further. If the opinion is received, then the matter can be progressed.
Medical insurers are notoriously vigorous defenders of claims made. It is essential that the claim be presented appropriately and that the necessary supportive evidence is obtained to maximise prospects of success.
There are various heads of damages that can be pursued if liability can be established. These include general damages (pain and suffering) out of pocket expenses, economic loss (past and future loss of wages), the cost of future treatment, nursing care if required and in certain circumstances, compensation for the gratuitous services provided by family and friends in caring for the injured claimant.