Based on recently released figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the number of private sector medical indemnity claims is far higher than the number of public sector claims.
Medical indemnity claims come to light as a result of problems in the provision of health services. Although figures have remained steady since 2008, medical professionals are still concerned with the numbers of claims.
The AIHW report, 'Australia's medical indemnity claims 2012-13', analysed data across both sectors from 2008 to 2013 to see if the system and its professionals had decreased the number of claims. According to the report, there were around 3,200-3,300 new private sector claims from 2010-2014, however, this was up from 2,300-2,500 from 2008 and 2009.
AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves explained that this figures are still well higher than the public health sector.
"There were about 950 new public sector claims in 2012-13. This was fewer than in any of the previous four years, where the number of new claims ranged from 1,200 to 1,400," she said.
"However, when we look at public and private sector claims combined, there was little change over the years. For instance, the proportion of public and private sector claims closed for less than $10,000 remained fairly steady, at between 63-65 per cent."
Where are the claims coming from?
The majority of cases were connected with private medical clinics rather than public hospitals. It is important to note that many of the claims describe 'mild harm' rather than 'severe harm' against the patient that suggests the system is improving, if not slowly.
"New claims associated with digestive, metabolic and endocrine system rose, from 10 per cent in 2008-09 to 24 per cent in 2012-13," according to the AIHW report.
The report also noted that claims against GPs had decreased at least 9 per cent in the last year. This was similar to claims involving obstetrics and gynaecology specialists that reduced from 12 per cent in 2008-2009 to 8 per cent last year.
Medical negligence compensation
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.