Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide or provides treatment below the professionally acceptable Australian medical community standards when the harm was foreseeable. Medical negligence can have serious consequences and can result in physical, emotional and financial harm to the patient.
There are several types of medical negligence claims that can be made in Australia. These include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis – For example, when a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or delays the diagnosis, it can result in the patient receiving delayed or incorrect treatment. This can have serious consequences for the patient's health.
- Surgical errors – For example, negligent surgical mistakes like incorrect incisions or leaving surgical equipment inside a patient can lead to serious injuries and even death.
- Medication errors – For example, the administration of the wrong medication or dosage can have serious consequences, including allergic reactions and overdose.
- Birth injuries – Negligent injuries caused to a baby during childbirth, such as cerebral palsy or brachial plexus injuries, can result in long-term disabilities and require ongoing medical care.
- Hospital-acquired infections – For example, a hospital’s negligent actions resulting in serious harm to a patient or multiple patients.
- Dental negligence – For example, a dentist’s negligent clinical care or mistakes during treatment resulting in serious injuries or permanent damage.
- Psychiatric malpractice – For example, when negligent clinical care by a mental health professional results in serious harm to the patient.
If someone believes they have been the victim of medical negligence, they may be able to pursue legal action against the healthcare professional, institution responsible or both.
It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident to ensure that the claim is made within the time limits set out in the law.
Medical negligence can have serious consequences for patients and their families. By understanding the different types of medical negligence claims, patients can better protect their rights and seek compensation for their injuries.