What would you imagine is the third largest cause of death per annum in the richest country on earth?
Astonishingly, the answer to that question in the United States is medical negligence. It comes in right behind heart disease and cancer in the list of leading causes of death. It’s a sobering fact and one that lifts the lid off a worldwide problem many outside the medical community are largely unaware of – doctors making mistakes.
Dr. Brian Goldman’s excellent TED talk on the matter – Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that – sums up the position from a Canadian physician’s point of view but the matter of medical negligence is far from being a merely North American phenomenon. Reliably precise figures for Australia are thin on the ground but situation here is little better.
The nationwide Quality in Australian Health Care Study – conducted back in 1995 – put the rate of “adverse events” at 16.6%, resulting in 50,000 cases of permanent disability and 18,000 deaths. More recently, a 2012/13 report by the Health Quality and Complaints Commission in Queensland recorded 200 deaths as a result of systemic failings or human error.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – created in 2006 – has been at the heart of driving attempted reform in the healthcare arena through initiatives such as the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights and the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.
Though much has been achieved, it’s clear there is still substantial room for improvement. In a 2013 interview, Lorraine Long of the independent Medical Error Action Group claimed to be receiving between 70 and 100 complaints per day, roughly half of which could be classified as potential medical error cases.
People naturally hope that a hospital visit will mean relief from their suffering rather than the beginning of a new chapter in their troubles. While it’s a given that not every medical procedure will be successful, the amount of injuries and deaths caused due to medical negligence alone in Australia remains scandalously high for a developed country.
To make matters worse, despite initiatives such as Open Disclosure, many Australian hospitals have historically been slow to admit culpability but quick to throw the full weight of insurance company lawyers against bereaved families.
Medical negligence claims are, by their very nature, complex ones to pursue and they typically arrive at times of enormous stress for those making them. If you’ve been a victim of medical negligence, it’s essential that you seek expert legal assistance as soon as possible. At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we have an outstanding track record in successfully driving through medical negligence claims for our clients.
We also understand that financial concerns will inevitably be to the forefront of many clients’ minds at what can be a very trying time, both financially and personally.
That’s why as compensation lawyers we’re happy to operate on a no win no fee basis. Contact us today for completely free and independent advice and assistance in assessing the merits of your medical negligence case and taking it further.