In the medical world, there are many different types of medical negligence claims. There are general rules that apply to all kinds of negligence, whether they occur in the public or private sector. These claims seek to hold healthcare providers and medical staff accountable for the care they provide to patients. While it may be difficult to prove a medical negligence claim, you may still be able to get some compensation. This article discusses how to go about making a negligence claim in Australia.
Medical negligence is the result of ineffective or substandard medical treatment that can have been rectified or prevented. If you are seeking compensation under the general public or private medical negligence claims guidelines, you should first consult a medical professional for advice on the claims process. However, the type of negligence will dictate whether or not compensation has been received. In general, medical or healthcare professionals in Australia must adhere to a code of practice known as the Heads of Agreement. It is this agreement which governs how medical professionals undertake their work.
An example of a general rule in Australia relates to professional liability. This is a general principle which means that a health professional that you choose to utilise should not be held liable for any mistakes or omissions with regard to your treatment. A health professional may be responsible for negligence if they fail to undertake reasonable procedures to deal with a patient. This can apply in a situation where a health care professional fails to treat a medical condition adequately or does not treat a patient with care sufficient to relieve them of suffering. Another related principle is that health care professionals cannot be held liable for the death of a patient. This principle is also applied in civil liability cases, where a patient’s death is caused by a health care professional’s failure to effectively treat a disease or condition that caused the patient’s death.
There are three exceptions to the general principle of professional liability in Australia, which relate to circumstances in which the health care professional reasonably foresaw that the conduct would result in some damage being caused to a patient. These are known as ex gratia and self-induced injury. In ex gratia, a professional is not liable for damage if it was reasonably foreseeable that the harm would occur. In self-induced damage, this principle only applies where it was reasonably foreseeable that the injury would occur.
It is important to remember that the above example is merely illustrative and does not address issues surrounding negligence by healthcare practitioners in other areas. For example, doctors are not liable for damage caused by non-conscientious doctors, nor are chiropractors who fail to refer patients to a specialist when needed, unless there is gross negligence. Compensation awards in medical negligence claims must necessarily follow a formula based on the nature of the damage suffered, and the potential loss resulting from that damage. A judge in the appropriate court may find that, where there has been a substantial loss as a result of the incident, compensation is entitled. If you have suffered an injury at work, you should contact an experienced solicitor as soon as possible to discuss your case in detail.