Medical professionals have a higher duty of care towards those under their responsibility. However, such care is compromised when practitioners are negligent in their duties – which as the below case shows, can occur in a variety of ways.
Overview of the case
Between 2014 and 2015, while practising at Gunnedah Hospital, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) alleged that a registered medical practitioner (the defendant), failed to exercise the appropriate skill, knowledge and judgement when caring for two patients (patients A and B).
Patient A and Patient B
On October 17, 2014, Patient A visited the emergency department with complaints of a urinary tract infection and severe pain. At this time, the patient had recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The practitioner failed to administer the appropriate treatment (insulin therapy), and instead discharged the patient the following day. It's also believed the medical professional failed to provide sufficient information to the patient about how to manage his condition. A short time after, Patient A died.
On January 17, 2015, Patient B attended the emergency department after suffering with right-sided abdominal pain for six hours. The HCCC alleged that the practitioner failed to correctly diagnose the patient, carry out proper investigations and recommend he urgently attend another hospital for further assessment.
The HCCC also alleged the practitioner failed to keep appropriate records for both patients.
The practitioner's previous misconduct
The court also found that in 2007, the practitioner had been at the centre of another professional misconduct case. At this time, the Tribunal of NSW found the medical professional guilty of preparing medical certificates for patients he had not seen as well as falsifying records and providing untruthful answers to investigators. He was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of $20,000, and told not to see more than 30 patients per day.
What did the court decide?
After reviewing all evidence, the court was satisfied that the practitioner had breached his duty of care towards both patients, and found he did not have true insight into his wrongful actions. It concluded that, if the practitioner had been registered at the date of the hearing, the court would have cancelled his registration. Furthermore, under the National Law, he was prevented from making an application for review for a period of 18 months from the date of the decision.
If you've sustained injuries as a result of medical negligence, get in touch with the expert legal team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.