In Australia when it can be proved that you have been injured or your condition made worse by a doctor, hospital or other health care provider you may be able to make a claim for compensation for Medical Negligence. Medical negligence solicitors are specialist solicitors who handle these often very difficult cases.
The necessary test to prove Medical Negligence is to prove that the doctor, nurse, dentist or other health care professional has done something that a competent person in their position would not have done.
Treatments do fail and operations go wrong but this does not necessarily imply medical Negligence. Even small operations come with risks. Medications can be taken incorrectly such as when a dose is missed and a patient takes more to catch up or there is an unknown allergic reaction.
Medical negligence claims are harder to win than road accidents or accidents at work. However there are medical negligence solicitors that specialise in this type of litigation. Medical negligence solicitors experienced in successfully running these claims will listen carefully to your story usually in person, consider your instructions carefully balanced against previous cases and advise you. You should not be dismayed if the advice is not to proceed. Medical negligence litigation is not for the faint hearted. Although you want to hear that your case should run and it is worth a lot of money because of the hurt you have suffered, listen to your medical negligence solicitors. If they are worthwhile they will tell you the truth about how gruelling such cases can be. If you are told though that the matter should be successful and financially worth your anxiety and the legal fees then you can have some confidence to proceed.
Remember as this type of case is normally paid for on the condition you have to win before they get paid, your medical negligence solicitors have nothing to gain from advising you to go into pointless litigation.
What should I do if I think/know something has gone wrong or my care has been substandard? - See a solicitor. Remember time limits are important so don't delay.
What if I wasn't actually injured but it looked as if there were mistakes made? - The people who treat you want you to leave hospital well. Mistakes are made though so for this you may need advice. If there is a bad outcome then there will be records to show what happened.
If you have had a bad outcome or the hospital or doctor dealt with your circumstances roughly you can make a complaint to the health complaints authority in your state.
Sometimes a doctor particularly surgeons have an atrocious way of talking to you and your family when explaining treatment and what has happened. This may show a guilty mind regarding an avoidable mistake but often it does not show negligence but a lack of people skills. Just because a person has 3 university degrees does not mean they know how to communicate clearly, even if they are brilliant doctors and inwardly humble people.
Another problem may be a lack of cleanliness in the hospital. This is a cause of unnecessary infections and can be medical Negligence if there were procedures set down but not followed.
What if I wasn't actually injured but it looked as if there were as if it could have nearly happened? – There a large number of near misses that even an ordinary person can spot in treatment or in hospitals. Medication errors, being scheduled for surgery on the wrong limb and or charts with another patient’s details on your bed are frequent complaints. This can be traumatic and frightening even when mistakes are found early when you realise that you could have easily woken up with stitches in a healthy limb or have taken the wrong medicine. This does not mean though that you can be compensated for being nearly hurt.
You will be doing the right thing in all those cases to make an official complaint. Talking to medical negligence solicitors can point you in the right direction if you haven't already done so before even thinking of starting a claim. Go to our link page to see where complaints can be lodged
Will my doctor or the hospital be upset with me if I ask too many questions? Are they all scared of Medical Negligence claims?
You can be confident that doctors and other health care professionals are really conscious that they owe a duty of care to their patients. Just because they have studied for a long time does not mean that your opinion is irrelevant or that they can detect every problem you have without you telling them. Gruff or not they still care deeply about you having a good outcome. You can help by being a curious consumer before and after the treatment. Never be afraid to ask a lot of questions about a procedure or medication and tell them all your concerns regarding risks and your circumstances. You may not have thought for instance of who is going to care for you if you are bedridden. If you are feeling that questioning a doctor is too much for you to take on alone take a friend with you to help you talk about your concerns. Remember too that whatever the circumstances you can seek a second opinion and this can be something that you can discuss with your GP or even the specialist proposing the treatment. Reducing unnecessary treatment reduces Medical Negligence. This is particularly the case with surgery of any kind. Although a trip to another region or a capital city to see a specialist can seem a lot of trouble you may be spared a lot of problems in the long run. Further that local doctor will be ultimately benefited too as there is no real profit in performing an operation that is unnecessary.
If you suffer a chronic condition from Medical Negligence, Public Liability Negligence , Motor Accident Negligence or a Work Accident then you should make a monthly appointment with your GP to let the doctor know how you are going. It may not seem important enough to do that but even if your GP is busy GPs also want to know how their patients are going. If you are stuck at home and cannot get about then the GP can help you with sourcing services to help you as well as look after your mental health. Even very brave people go into depression when chronically ill. It is a good idea to book ahead by a couple of months as it helps very busy doctors plan their work. If you end up not needing to go then call up the day before. Busy doctors are always able to fill a cancelled appointment if you tell them soon enough.
Author's personal experience: I have lived and worked in many locations around the country and due to having a large family I've "frequented" many health care establishments with mixed results. Sometimes it seems as if the doctors are spread very thin. If you have never had to go to the doctor very much sometimes you feel as if the reception staff are doing you a huge favour by letting you have an appointment. Do not be put off by that attitude or your feelings. When you feel awful and worried and scared about your own situation or someone you care for every encounter can be oppressive whether it is the staff's fault or not. Be polite but firm. If they can’t get you in then ask who can see you and where. Note that if you cannot afford to go to see a doctor in another town there is often community transport to get you there.