$365K Compensation for Obesity – Negligent general practitioner

Published 19 Feb 2013

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of New South Wales saw a gentleman (Mr Luis Almario) receive almost $365,000 in compensation after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in 2011.

Mr Almario had been consulting with Dr Emmanuel Varipatis, his general practitioner, since 1997. When he first consulted Dr Varipatis, Mr Almario was suffering from morbid obesity and related conditions of diabetes and hypertension. 

Dr Varipatis was aware Mr Almario was suffering from fatty liver disease and diabetes and the possibility of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Each of these conditions were reversible if Mr Almario lost sufficient weight.  

Whilst Dr Varipatis advised Mr Almario he needed to lose weight, he never referred him to a weight loss/health clinic or to a specialist for consideration of surgery. The Supreme Court found that Dr Varipatis was negligent in failing to do so and accordingly made an award in favour of Mr Almario for almost $365,000 plus legal costs.

Dr Varipatis has now appealed this decision and we await the outcome. As the law currently stands, a general practitioner is held to a higher standard of care than that previously expected. Following this decision a doctor is expected to take a more proactive role in managing their patient’s health, including lifestyle choices.  

If you believe your treating doctor has failed to act and advise you appropriately which has led to injury or disease please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.