If you believe that you have been harmed by a healthcare provider's actions, you may be wondering if you have a medical negligence claim. Medical negligence is a complex area of law, but in Australia, there are certain factors that must be established to prove a claim.
Firstly, you must show that the healthcare provider had a duty of care towards you. This is usually straightforward if you were a patient of the healthcare provider. They owe you a duty to provide you with medical treatment that is of an acceptable professional standard.
Secondly, you must show that the healthcare provider breached their duty of care. This means that they failed to provide medical treatment that was in accordance with accepted medical practice. For example, if a doctor failed to diagnose a medical condition that another doctor would have diagnosed (the professionals in the same practice area are expected to competently diagnose that condition), they may have breached their duty of care.
Thirdly, you must show that the breach of duty caused you harm. This can be difficult to prove, as you may have had an underlying medical condition that would have caused you harm regardless of the healthcare provider's actions. However, if the breach of duty made your condition worse or caused you to suffer additional harm, you may have a claim.
Finally, you must show that the harm you suffered was foreseeable. This means that a reasonable healthcare provider would have foreseen the harm that you suffered as a result of their breach of duty. For example, if a doctor failed to provide you with proper aftercare following a surgery, and you suffered complications as a result, the harm may have been foreseeable.
If you believe that you have a medical negligence claim, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer who specialises in medical negligence claims can help you to determine whether you have a claim, and can guide you through the process of making a claim. Keep in mind that there are strict time limits (also known as limitation periods) for making medical negligence claims in Australia, so it is important to act quickly.