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Family Gets $425K Compensation After Father’s Death Due to Medical Negligence

Case Overview
  • A husband/father died hours after being discharged from the Emergency Department.
  • It was alleged on behalf of the family that the hospital was negligent in failing to properly understand testing results and discharging the young father.
  • GMP was able to settle the claim against the major teaching hospital in NSW, for damages in the amount of $425,000.

We recently settled a claim against a major teaching hospital in NSW, for damages in the amount of $425,000.00. We commenced legal proceedings on behalf of a young family after their husband/father died hours after being discharged from the Emergency Department. It was alleged on behalf of the family that the hospital was negligent in failing to properly understand testing results and discharging the young father.

The evidence obtained on behalf of the family was that their father/husband had attended on the defendant hospital with shortness of breath, dizziness, chest tightness, sore throat and coughing. Despite an abnormal Electrocardiogram (ECG), no further action was taken, and the husband/father was discharged home. Within 8 hours, the husband//father had suffered a heart attack, despite their best efforts the attending ambulance officers could not resuscitate him.

“In addressing whether there was a breach of duty of care and causation, we instructed both an Emergency Medicine Physician along with a Cardiologist.”


Susan Newman
Our Approach

Our Emergency Medicine Physician was critical in relation to the inaction of the attending medical staff.  Indicating that the attending doctors should have initially arranged for a serum troponin blood test to confirm or exclude the possibility of recent acute myocardial infarction. Furthermore, our expert articulated that, had the attending doctors arranged for the patient’s admission to the coronary care unit overnight and treatment had of been provided, the young husband and father. Our Expert Cardiologist expressed the view that it was clear that, had the patient been admitted to hospital and undergone a troponin blood test, the deceased’s death would have been avoided. 

On the basis of these experts’ opinions, we commenced proceedings on behalf of the plaintiff in the District Court of NSW. The defendant hospital admitted to breaching its duty of care in that the attending performed troponin test and failed to admit the patient to Hospital for review by a cardiologist. The only issue between the parties was the what damages were the family entitled to receive. Pursuant to the Compensation Relatives Act, the plaintiff advanced a claim for loss of financial dependency, loss of services and funeral expenses. The defendant disputed all claims.

In preparing the argument on damages, we obtained expert opinions from an Occupational Therapist and a Forensic Accountant. The defendant also obtained an expert accountant’s opinion. On the basis of the differing opinions from each of the accountants there was a significant issue as to the manner.

The defendant’s position in relation to the plaintiff’s claim for damages was aggressive. This in particular was due to an issue as to whether a Court would reduce it’s allowance for damages on the basis of a lump sum payment received via a pension scheme. 

It was noted that the relevant super fund allowed the plaintiff, to elect to receive a part payment and an ongoing pension. The defendant considered that while the pension payments need not be considered the lump sum payment should be. We took the view that there was no difference between the lump sum payment and the pension payments and that neither should be considered.

 

The Result

We were able to engage the defendant in negotiations during a mediation and ultimately settle the matter in the sum of $425,000.

Susan Newman

Senior Associate
Have enough courage to start and enough heart to finish. – Jessica N. S. Yourko
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that another in the same position would prudently exercise. The harm caused by negligence is considered to be due to carelessness, rather than a specific intent or determination to cause harm.

While negligence can include misconduct in a variety of circumstances, malpractice is reserved for professionals who fall grossly short of their obligations — and harm others in the process. As a result, malpractice is often called “professional negligence”. If a licensed professional (such as a doctor, lawyer, or accountant) fails to provide the accepted standard of care and subsequently causes harm to the plaintiff, this form of negligence may be known as malpractice.

Medical malpractice is specifically used in reference to medical workers who have committed acts of negligence.

Demonstrating that a doctor fell short of their duty of care can be a challenging process. While most doctors try their best to correctly diagnose conditions and provide timely medical treatment, they can’t always be right. In every state, protections are in place to shield practitioners from some litigation. These give practitioners peace of mind on the job and protect hospitals that are doing their best with limited resources. However, these laws also set the bar for receiving compensation incredibly high.

Overall, to win a favorable judgment, you must be able to prove Duty, Breach and Damages.

If you have been injured or an existing condition has got worse following a medical procedure, or even just a visit to the doctor, then you may have been the victim of medical negligence and you may be eligible to make medical negligence claims against the professional who caused your injury.

If you can first show that you have suffered harm, and secondly, that a medical professional failed in their duty of care towards you then you may be entitled to compensation.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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