Errors by health care professionals come in many forms, and the specifics of different cases naturally lead to different results when affected parties seek medical negligence claims.
Hospital staff and general practitioners are some of the more common examples of professionals whose lack of care or attention can put a person's life at risk. However, those who have received treatment from a psychiatrist and suffered a medical complication as a result are just as capable of pursuing a claim.
The facts behind medical negligence claims can make for startling reading. According to Clinical Negligence Australia:
- As many as 18,000 Australians die every year in hospitals due to preventable medical negligence.
- Medical negligence leads to permanent injuries among 50,000 Australians annually.
- In Australia alone, 80,000 people are admitted to hospital every year because of mistakes in administering or distributing medication.
It is the latter point that has recently come under the microscope by legal professionals, after an ACT psychiatrist allegedly misdiagnosed a patient and prescribed the wrong medication. The plaintiff claimed they were misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and incorrectly prescribed dexamphetamine.
The drug has various side effects, including dizziness, nausea and headaches. However, in severe cases, dexamphetamine can lead to vomiting, depression, tremors and palpitations.
Case slowed down by documentation
The case continues after the plaintiff sought an interlocutory order for the defendant to release documents relating to the case. These included peer reviews, details of the defendant's method of diagnosis, evidence of his ability to practice, and reasons as to why the defendant eventually stopped practising.
Opposing the discovery of this documentation, the defendant claimed the information was not relevant to the proceedings. The Supreme Court contemplated the feasibility of collecting these documents in light of not knowing their contents, before ruling that the defendant must undertake a review of the documents in their possession.
The ruling is still forthcoming, though, ultimately, the ACT Supreme Court released guidance on the type of documents that should be discovered in such proceedings where a psychiatrist is prosecuted for medical negligence.
Pursuing a claim for medical negligence
Despite state difference, NSW residents should also be aware of their ability to also make a claim in such circumstances.
While seeking compensation for medical negligence can sometimes be a complex undertaking, as in the example above, other cases are concluded quickly, helping claimants to receive the compensation they deserve.
The final payout can cover a range of costs, such as medical expenses, lost earnings and superannuation, as well as non-economic losses for any pain suffered as the result of poor medical care or attention.
Receiving the advice of a legal professional who can analyse the details of your case and evaluate whether there is a strong chance of winning is often a smart choice for a better outcome.