The health sector in Australia's capital have allegedly been subject to a remarkable amount of litigation over the last six years.
According to documents obtained by the Canberra Times, medical negligence compensation claims have accounted for approximately 43 per cent of the $103 million paid by the government's insurance companies over the last six years.
Misdiagnosis contributed nearly $16 million to the total, followed closely by payments for birthing issues at $12.1 million and surgical complications at $8.4 million – the remainder was distributed amongst a range of other health-related cases.
Collated by the Australian Capital Territory Insurance Authority (ACTIA) in 2011, the documents were developed to help the medical community reduce risk in key areas.
They include detailed breakdowns of case histories from 2006 to 2010 and the authors state they clearly show that a majority of the compensation payouts and claims made in the ACT are related to government activities.
Speaking on the findings, chief executive of ACTIA John Fletcher said they could help official departments to develop a more thorough understanding of insurance claims and how they could help to reduce "adverse incidents".
Fletcher asserted: "When we deliver our services, we should be doing it in a way that doesn't produce a loss to the territory or injury or loss to any other party.
"So what we're trying to do is by guiding [government agencies] through this type of process, they’ll hopefully pay a bit more attention to the types of claims they are getting."
He went on to say that the report was not focusing so much on the dollar value of compensation claims – rather that official actions should be delivered by departments acting as "good corporate citizens" by increasing the levels of risk awareness in the senior levels of the public service.
When considering the amounts to be paid out in response to a claim, there are a number of factors that are covered.
First of all, the effect on the victim's quality of life needs to be addressed – with any marked decrease posing a possible ground for compensation.
The courts also take into account the options available to the professionals involved – if it can be shown that the actions taken were not necessarily the ones that could have had the best possible outcomes, then this too can have serious implications.