Two doctors sued after failing to advise on alternative treatments

Date:Nov 17, 2011

In many medical negligence cases the claim revolves around two key areas - a failure to advise the patient of the risks involved in a particular procedure and the incorrect treatment being prescribed or supplied.

The family of a Perth man have found there to be a third consideration - failure to provide sufficient information.

A case has been brought before the courts that alleges two doctors - a neurosurgeon and an oncologist, now both retired - did not give the family of a boy diagnosed with a large brain tumour enough details for them to make an informed decision.

They allege that at the time of consultation in 1996 the two medical professionals had advised them that the benefits posed by surgery were outweighed by the risks the procedure placed on their son's life.

While the claimants accept the fact that the doctors did not use the phrase "inoperable", they asserted that they described the tumour as being "non-resectable".

Speaking at the proceedings, the claimant's mother said: "At this stage, I was deteriorating on the floor and sobbing.

"I just said there must be something you can do."

Instead of an operation, the doctors started the patient on a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatments over a period of four years.

The 26-year-old claimant has since had surgery, with a specialist able to remove 95 per cent of the life-threatening tumour from his brain over a series of three operations in 2000.

The victim says he still suffers from impaired vision, recall faculties and sometimes struggles with cognitive difficulties - as well as having his left arm permanently paralysed.

Central to the compensation issue is that the patent only started to develop these symptoms after the initial prognosis was given.

The claim argues that the victim could have avoided these issues - or had their severity significantly reduced - had the medical professionals who performed the initial consultation given his parents the option to operate in the first place.

If the full disclosure of treatment for the condition - known as hemiplegia - had been known, the victim says he would have opted to take the risks and undergo the surgery much earlier.

It relates back to the nature of the doctor-patient relationship - with medical professionals legally obliged to give their patients the facts about their treatment options in order for them to make an informed decision.

Victims in these cases may benefit from consulting with a no win no fee law firm to explore their legal options before proceeding with a medical negligence lawyer to argue their case in court.