What constitutes medical negligence in Queensland (QLD)?

Published 17 Sep 2020

Suffering the effects of negligent medical treatment can be devastating. When a medical professional who you entrusted with your health commits a preventable error and causes physical or psychological harm, the impact can range from a diminished ability to work and earn money to long-lasting pain.

The good news is that the 2019 State of Patient Safety and Quality in Australian Hospitals report by the Australian Commission found so-called “sentinel events” of serious, preventable harm to patients are on the decline over the past few years. The bad news is that in the most recent figures, for 2016-2017, there were still over 60 of these cases.

With that said, it can be challenging to win a court case proving that a doctor or other health care worker has been negligent in their duties. Your case must fit within the exact parameters of the law, which makes it important to verify what qualifies as medical negligence in Queensland.

What is the duty of care in QLD?

The concept of “duty of care” is important for determining whether a negative medical outcome counts as negligence eligible for a compensation claim. In Queensland, this term means that medical practitioners need to meet an acceptable standard of knowledge and performance in their care for you. If the medical experts assisting you are working up to high standards when something goes wrong, that would not be grounds for legal action. If, on the other hand, they are performing poorly, that is potentially cause for a medical negligence case.

Medical mistakes that may qualify as matters of negligence include:

  • Surgery or other invasive medical procedures being performed on the wrong part of the body or wrong person
  • A mistake with prescription of a medication, leading to serious side effects
  • Retention of a medical tool or other object inside a patient, causing harm
  • A failure to give adequate warning about the risks or effects of a procedure
  • A misdiagnosis of a condition, leading to ongoing treatment problems

How do you prove causation in QLD?

Causation is just as important as proving the duty of care when determining whether your medical negligence case will succeed. According to the Civil Liability Act 2003, the QLD legislation that governs indemnity in the state, for a breach of duty to be considered a causation of harm, it must have been a “necessary condition” of that adverse event occurring. In simpler terms, if the mistake was not made, the person would not have suffered the ill effects mentioned in their claim.

What types of damages may plaintiffs win?

If you can prove that a person with a duty of care over you in a medical situation caused you harm as a direct result of their actions, that is when you can launch a medical negligence case. These cover a variety of circumstances, including repayment of additional medical costs, a lump sum payment to compensate for pain and suffering or loss of quality of life, repayment of wages that cannot be earned due to an inability to work and more.

Why should you seek legal advice and assistance from experts?

Every case is different, and there are numerous complexities associated with the areas of law around medical negligence and the related settlements. To make sure your case qualifies for compensation, and that you have the right to bring your claim based on the time limits under QLD law, you should work with an expert team of solicitors experienced in medical negligence cases.

Gerard Malouf & Partners work on a no-win no-fee basis, meaning you are not taking a financial risk by retaining our services. If you want our assistance seeking the compensation you’re owed for a devastating medical mistake, call us on 1800 004 878 or email your enquiry.

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