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Family Receives Compensation For Psychological Injuries Sustained

Case Overview
  • We received instructions to act on behalf of family members after the death of a patient.
  • It was established that there had been a breach of a number of the Unit’s own policies in the time leading up to the patient’s death.
  • GMP was able to secure compensation for each family member for their psychological injuries due to the death of the patient.

We received instructions to act on behalf of family members in relation to the investigation of events surrounding the death of a patient while admitted to an Acute Mental Health Unit. Investigations conducted revealed that the deceased patient had been able to obtain controlled medication while a patient on the ward. Despite being on 15-minute observations, had lapsed into a coma from as early as 1 pm, but was only found to be unresponsive at approximately 5:00 pm.

It was established in these matters that the staff at the Acute Mental Health Unit, were aware or ought to have been aware of the deceased patient having obtained the controlled medication, that regular and frequent observations were not carried out and that there had been a breach of a number of the Units own policies in the time leading up to the patient’s death.

“A number of expert opinions were required to establish the liability of the Unit, namely, a psychiatrist, a mental health nurse and a toxicologist. As all were supportive of a claim in negligence, proceedings were commenced on behalf of the family members.”

Susan Newman
Our Approach

In its defence, the Unit did concede a number of issues, however, in dispute between the parties, was whether, if policy and procedure had been correctly followed, would the patient’s death have had been avoided. On this issue, we relied on both findings made by the Coroner and that of our toxicology expert. They found that the cause of the patients death was as a result of the ingestion of the controlled medication and that, had it been identified earlier, the patient had in fact lapsed into a coma, treatment would have resulted in the patient having survived the incident.

The Court directed the parties to participate in a Mediation. Representatives were present from the Acute Mental Health Unit. While the defendant continued to maintain their defence to the claim, we were able to secure compensation for each family member as a result of their psychological injuries which had been suffered due to the death of the patient.

The Result

As a result of their psychological injuries, we were able to obtain compensation for each family member.

Susan Newman Lawyer

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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