What constitutes medical negligence in Queensland?

Published 09 Aug 2017

Do you think you’ve been the victim of medical negligence in Queensland? Check our quick guide to see whether or not you may have a claim.

Medical negligence cases are notoriously complex and can take several years or more to resolve, particularly if plaintiffs refuse a settlement and proceed to court.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures from 2012-13 show the average time between a health care incident occurring and a medical negligence claim closing was three to four years. However, between 22 and 30 per cent of claims are still open five years after the claim is opened.

Pursuing medical negligence compensation can be a considerable undertaking, so it’s important that you are prepared for what the process may involve. If you’re unsure whether your case constitutes medical negligence, here are some guidelines to get you started.

Duty of care

Medical practitioners owe you a duty of care, which means they must exercise the appropriate judgement and skill when providing treatment. Negligence in this context doesn’t simply mean a mistake or an accident; you must show a professional’s care fell well below the accepted standards that another practitioner in the same circumstances would provide.

Ways in which a doctor or nurse can breach their duty of care include:

  • Failing to adequately inform a patient of treatment risks;
  • Performing operations on the wrong body part;
  • Leaving surgical instruments inside a patient;
  • Prescribing the wrong medication;
  • Serious misdiagnosis of a condition.

Causation

Proving that a medical practitioner has failed in their duty of care is not enough. You must also show that their fall in standards resulted in you suffering the injury or illness for which you are claiming damages.

There are a number of tests to gauge causation, which are set out in Section 11 of the Civil Liability Act 2003. If you are able to convince the courts that a breach of duty has occurred and that this resulted in your injuries, you should be eligible for compensation.

Damages

No two cases are the same, so it’s impossible to predict how much compensation you will receive. However, you should be awarded a lump sum payment to cover a range of economic and non-economic losses.

These may include loss of past, present and future income and superannuation; treatment costs; care expenses; and damages for pain, suffering and a poorer quality of life.

Do you believe your case passes the duty of care and causation tests? Please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

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