Medical negligence is a topic that many Australians prefer not to speak about for a number of reasons. They could be embarrassed that it’s happening to them or fear that their insurance company may not pay out if they consult with a compensation lawyer.
However, a recent news feature from Channel Nine’s A Current Affair has lifted the lid on some of the worst medical negligence cases in Australia over past years. In fact, the World Health Organisation estimates close to 50,000 Australians are the victims of negligence every year.
The programme interviewed two victims whose lives have been changed because of the actions of hospital staff and medical professionals.
One woman, Cathy Smith, underwent elective surgery before a proposed hysterectomy. During this routine procedure, she was deprived of oxygen for 10 minutes. It was later revealed that the breathing tube meant for her trachea was accidently placed into her esophagus.
As a result of this botch-up, Mrs Smith was left with permanent brain damage as well as a number of other issues related to her memory, balance and vision.
She is unable to drive or shower herself and relies on her husband for many basic tasks.
Wayne Rutch? went under the knife for routine bowel surgery. However, he woke up unable to use his arms in intensive care.
The hospital revealed that Mr Rutch’s arms were dangling off the operating table for the entire 10 hour surgery. This stretched and broke the nerves in both his neck and shoulders.
Mr Rutch is now unable to carry items such as a bottle a milk or even untie a loaf of bread. He told A Current Affair that the incident has changed his life forever.
“I’ve always got to have someone with me to do the simplest tasks. It still hurts to talk about all this,” he said.
It is important to note that these two incidents have been settled with intervention from compensation lawyers and Queensland Health.
However, there is the suggestion that more cases will now arise thanks to these examples highlighted in the mainstream media.
What if I’m a victim of medical negligence?
Patients that developed further complications due to mistreatment could be eligible for medical negligence compensation and are urged to contact a lawyer who can help them with their claim.
As medical negligence compensation is a complex situation, it is best to take your claim directly to a lawyer. It is also important to record anything that could help your claim. If your negligence lawyer can have access to all relevant information, then you are more likely to be successful in your case.