Many people attend local doctors at their medical centre or family practice for every day health problems in order to diagnose and treat a range of medical conditions. A general practitioner has a general knowledge of these conditions but should not take upon himself a role that stretches his specialisation as a general practitioner and must be prepared to refer his patient to a specialist doctor most suited to the particular health problem.
The general practitioner should not merely refer a patient with a one line slip of paper but would need to adequately inform the specialist to whom the patient is referred of any relevant past and present history along with radiological investigations and pathology that may be helpful. Additionally there is a requirement that such referral be made as quickly as possible and the doctor should also follow up with the patient to determine whether in fact the referral has occurred and that the patient is fully aware of the urgency of the further treatment with a specialist. This is particularly so in relation to critical matters such as stomach cramps, potential cancer indications, suspected tumours, severe headaches, heart conditions, orthopaedic injuries and any critical illnesses that might befall a patient.
The vast majority of general practitioners are very competent, thoughtful and caring doctors but if they run exceptionally busy medical practices and only devote very limited time to treating and interviewing each patient the risk of making an error increases exponentially unless the doctor is exceptionally skilful. There are cases that occur daily where doctors spend too little time investigating a patient’s ailment, failing to obtain critical facts in order to make an informed decision and consequently making a misdiagnosis.
The standard of care required of a general practitioner is very high. However a general practitioner can defend a medical negligence claim on the basis that there is a significant number of other doctors that would have actioned the matter similarly, and if so this would provide an adequate defence to any allegation of fault, misdiagnosis, medical negligence or malpractice.
In the experience of our highly specialised medical negligence department at Gerard Malouf and Partners we regularly prosecute successfully claims of medical negligence against general practitioners for missing vital and obvious signs of significant health problems on a “no win no fee” basis.
For free over-the-phone advice or to take advantage of our free face-to-face consultation call our expert medical negligence lawyers today on our Free Call Number 1800 004 878.