Nervous Shock Settlement of $1.175 Million for Indigenous family following death of family matriarch as a result of negligent hospital treatment

PUBLISHED 19 Sep 2014

Our client’s in this case were an Aboriginal family who approached Gerard Malouf and Partners Medical Negligence Lawyers following the death of a close relative. The deceased was the matriarch of this close family and was a much loved sister, mother and grandmother. She had approached a hospital suffering from severe stomach cramps on 12 November 2012. She was treated and remained in hospital for several days. On the morning of her fourth day in hospital she began to complain of pain in her chest radiating to her back. The staff of the hospital were both aware of these complaints and aware of her history of diabetes. Nonetheless, no tests were ordered until half way through the following day.

Following an electrocardiogram being conducted it was recommended that she consult a cardiologist. Despite this recommendation, no referral was made and she continued to complain of worsening pain. Two days after her initial complaint of chest pain she was transferred to a second hospital where she was diagnosed as having a heart attack upon arrival. She was then immediately transferred to another hospital in Sydney for immediate treatment. However, as a result of the delay in diagnosis and despite the efforts of the latter two hospitals to treat her urgently, she tragically passed away several days later.

Understandably, her family members were shocked by the sudden passing of such a central and important member of their family and they suffered from severe psychological trauma. Feeling disempowered and with the knowledge that if it was not for the negligence of the hospital, their mother/sister/grandmother would still be alive, this grieving family approached Gerard Malouf and Partners where Leslie Abboud, a senior solicitor with over 30 years of legal experience, took carriage of this matter.

Mr Abboud, and his specialised medical negligence team, obtained medical expert reports and opinions. Mr Abboud thoroughly reviewed the complex medical evidence and reports and furthermore briefed an experienced barrister in this matter. In doing so he was able to establish a presence of negligence by the hospital as it was shown that given the electrocardiogram that was conducted, the presence of diagnosis for diabetes as well as the persistent and serious complaints of the patient, the hospital should have immediately transferred her for treatment. Failing to do so had resulted in her death and if it was not for this failure it was likely that she would have survived this ordeal following treatment.

Equipped with this clear evidence of negligence, Mr Abboud was instructed by our clients that they sought to negotiate to have this matter resolved in a timely fashion to allow the family to grieve and obtain some closure. With these instructions Mr Abboud entered into negotiations between the parties, including the specialist barrister briefed in this matter and instructed by Mr Abboud. The matter settled at mediation for $1,175,000.00 This was an outstanding result that our clients were very pleased with. We hope that this settlement both helps encourage hospitals to ensure their patients are properly cared for and that their complaints are taken seriously, we also hope that this assists our family of clients in obtaining some closure following such a traumatic experience.

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