Do we take medical negligence seriously enough?

Date: May 19, 2016

Would it shock you to learn that medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States?

That's the announcement from Johns Hopkins medical university. Their study of causes of death in the US in 2014 found that medical errors should rank above suicide, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease as the third leading cause of death. The study recommended that rates of negligence should be better recorded to spread awareness of how doctors can injure us.

Australia is not taking medical negligence seriously enough

Here in Australia, there appears to be a similar lack of concern. The Australian Bureau of Statistics records the same leading causes of death in this country compared to America – but deaths by medical misadventure are sadly not recorded whatsoever.

"A doctor is not negligent if he acts in accordance with a practice accepted at the time as proper by a responsible body of medical opinion," Justice Susan Kiefel AC said last year in a paper entitled 'Developments in the law relating to medical negligence in the last 30 years.' "The law imposes the duty of care:  but the standard of care is a matter of medical judgment."

Kiefel said the decision to make probability the standard of proof in all actions when we try to make harmful doctors liable  is "a relief to doctors and insurers" who aren't held accountable for 'chance' injuries to patients. Kiefel's message was that medical officials should perhaps be held liable for injuries to patients if they knew there was a possibility the patient would be injured by a procedure rather than a probability of injury.

Kiefel noted that unfortunately, the "filtering mechanism of special leave" stops many cases from reaching the Australia's High Courts, and while there hasn't been a great increase in opportunities for medical negligence cases to be heard, "The law of medical negligence […] will need to be responsive to developments in technology and scientific understanding" over the next 100 years.

We should not be complacent about negligence: we should fight back

In Australia a breach of a medical practitioner's duty of care is not something that should be merely ruminated on. If you have sustained an injury due to a breach in duty of care, you may be entitled to make a claim for negligence compensation covering economic loss or non-economic loss including pain and suffering. Gerard Malouf and Partners are the answer for people who have been injured as a result of medical negligence. We are small enough to care intimately for our clients, but large enough to have the expert and medical resources our clients need to fight big insurers.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.