Every medical procedure comes with risks. Medical negligence in surgery is when something that could have been reasonably avoided goes wrong. As a patient, you should familiarise yourself with your condition and the procedure to recognise red flags and know what legal recourse you have. It isn’t just the potential physical injuries that medical negligence can result in, there is also an emotional toll.
Understanding Surgical Procedure Risks
A member of the team assigned to your case should sit down with you to discuss the risks of the treatment or procedure. Informed consent is a legal requirement. Patients have the right to be informed of all potential risks before they consent to a surgical procedure. It is your right to be informed and if you are not, you may be successful in filing a medical negligence claim should something go wrong.
There is always a risk of surgical error, whether it’s bleeding or organ damage. After surgery, there is a risk of infection.
Red Flags for Potential Medical Negligence
Whether you are thinking about medical negligence or not, you should always look out for red flags during the preparation process and following a procedure.
- The first and biggest sign is a failure to obtain informed consent.
- If your diagnosis was delayed, that is a red flag. It’s also concerning if the medical team failed to recognise potential complications.
- After your procedure, there are obvious things to look out for, such as the wrong surgery site or instruments left inside the patient.
- There can be post-operative complications if inadequate care is provided or there is a lack of monitoring of a recovering patient.
- An infection could also be cause for concern regarding medical negligence, whether down to poor sterilisation practices or hospital hygiene issues.
- Your condition stays the same or worsens following treatment – this could be a result of misdiagnosis or mistreatment.
- You develop another condition due to an incorrect course of treatment.
- The medical team didn’t take the time to listen to your concerns, thus undermining informed consent.
- You are suddenly referred to a different specialist.
Legal Recourse for Medical Negligence in Australia
Medical negligence laws provide you with potential recourse if you are the victim of medical negligence following a surgical procedure. As the plaintiff, you have to meet the burden of proof by showing that you were owed a duty of care and it was breached, resulting in physical or mental harm.
A breach of duty of care is a failure to provide a reasonable standard of care. Essentially, the court will ask whether the professional acted in a manner that peers would conclude was professionally competent.
Burden of Proof in Medical Negligence Claims
Gathering evidence is one of the most important steps because you need to establish that a breach of duty of care occurred. Seeking a second and third opinion and documenting expert opinions is a useful evidentiary tool but can also be helpful in achieving a better medical outcome.
Medical negligence lawyers can provide you with advice on what you need to present with your claim, but they can also support you throughout the process to ensure your claim is successful.
Time Limits for Filing Medical Negligence Claims
In New South Wales, there is a three-year time limit for filing. There are exceptions, but you would need to speak to a lawyer who specialises in medical negligence in Sydney for advice specific to your case. For example, if you did not know there was negligence until the time limit was up, you may be able to argue your claim should still be brought. Additionally, if medical negligence occurred to a patient while they were a minor, they can still file a claim upon turning 18.
You should seek legal advice as soon as you become aware that you may have been a victim of medical negligence.
Seeking Legal Representation
Legal advice is a necessity. You need a lawyer who is experienced and skilled in medical negligence. Inquire about their experience with similar claims and what their fees are and how they work. It’s a complicated process, and you are more likely to succeed if you rely on the services of a legal professional.
Compensation and Damages
You will have to show that the negligence resulted in harm. You may receive compensation for a variety of losses, including medical treatment, loss of earnings, loss of quality of life, as well as pain and suffering. You can also be awarded damages for the cost of home assistance or any alterations you had to make to your home as a result of the negligence.
In the event of death, the deceased’s family can pursue compensation. Compensation will vary, depending on the harm caused, the impact, and how it altered future medical requirements.
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation
The court process can take several years, so your lawyer may advise you to negotiate or mediate a settlement with the hospital or doctor. It won’t just save you time and money, but it will also reduce the amount of stress that comes with litigation and court cases.
AJB Stevens Can Help
The process of filing and winning a medical negligence claim is complex. The best way to ensure your success and get the compensation you deserve is to enlist the services of legal experts who can offer dedicated support and detailed knowledge of the legal process. At AJB Stevens Lawyers, we can help you navigate this complicated process and receive the compensation you deserve.