When a doctor, dentist, hospital or an allied health care professional fails to provide competent care, and this results in harm, victims and their families can make a compensation claim.
Depending on what happened, we generally look for one of two things: Firstly, did the provider make a mistake such as surgical errors, misdiagnosis and the like? Secondly, did the doctor or health care provider clearly explain the risks of the procedure? Put differently: was there informed consent to the procedure by the injured patient? This is particularly important where a patient would not have undergone the procedure if they had been told of the true risks.
Medical negligence is when a medical professional acts in a way that deviates from accepted norms or standards and this causes harm. For example, they fail to diagnose a condition or they misdiagnose it. Another example might be surgical mistakes. Or when they fail to properly investigate your underlying medical condition to determine if a particular procedure is suitable for you…the list goes on.
It’s important to remember that it’s not just doctors who can be liable for medical negligence. There is a wide variety of health care professionals that owe patients a duty of care and who may be a respondent in a negligence claim. For example:
-Cosmetic injectables providers
It can be difficult to prove medical negligence, but it really depends on what actually happened.
For example, if the question is whether a doctor should have diagnosed a particular condition, the reality is, sometimes it’s just not clear cut and neither side will know for sure until a court makes a decision.
But imagine a situation where a general dentist undertakes a complex procedure without ascertaining that the patient has an underlying medical condition, without obtaining adequate CT images and without informing the patient of the possible risks. As you can imagine, in a situation like this, it’s much easier to prove negligence.
Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes you might think the doctor made a particular mistake and then we engage an expert who identifies a different error which is easier to prove. So what might seem like a difficult claim at the beginning may become a stronger claim later on. (Unfortunately, sometimes the opposite is also true.)
This is one of the issues which you have to contemplate with: to prove that your health care provider was negligent, you would usually need evidence from a doctor or specialist which explains what went wrong. But how do you get this? If you are unhappy with a doctor or other provider and make an appointment with someone else to get a second opinion, sometimes your “new doctor” may be very reluctant to say anything bad about your previous doctor. The reason for this is that doctors often don’t want to get involved in a dispute between a patient and another doctor.
How do you get around this issue? We can help. We can engage appropriate specialists who have experience in giving expert evidence in litigation and who aren’t afraid to provide a written opinion about another doctor’s or medical provider’s negligence.
We will obtain and review all medical records and identify the best specialist who can help us prove your claim. This makes a big difference.
For example, in one of our recent matters, our client needed to work with a team of 3 specialists to fix the original treatment provider’s negligence. The specialists did a great job, they even told our client what they thought was wrong with the original treatment, but they were unwilling to commit anything to writing to help our client make a compensation claim.
We told our client to focus on his recovery while we found a highly accomplished specialist to review our client’s entire history. We engaged him, we paid his fees and obtained a very detailed report that comprehensively answered our questions and proved the case.
We will also carry out investigations into the background of the doctor or other provider who caused you harm. For example, we will try to establish if they have had claims against them in the past, including also disciplinary proceedings by the AHPRA and/or their specialist board. (By the way, one place to start is AHPRA’s register, which you can reach here…)
In addition, we will also gather all other evidence to quantify your loss. This includes the costs of all necessary medical treatment (including future treatment), lost wages and anything else that you may be entitled to.
When we act for you, we also select the right strategy for your claim. Even though your claim is against a doctor or other health care provider, remember that there is an insurance company behind them.
For many years before starting Denes Lawyers, our principal solicitor, Oszkar Denes, used to act for insurance companies. He knows how insurance companies defend claims, what are their pressure points and how they assign a value to the claim (which they call a reserve and which has a big impact on your claim). Find out more about Oszkar here.
Many firms try to rush you to sign up with them without carefully considering your options. We encourage you to first learn about your personal injury claim. You should ask yourself:
Our book is available to you free of charge. You don’t have to be a client to receive this book. Head to the order page and we will be happy to send you a copy straight away.
In Queensland, most compensation firms will charge you 50% of your compensation amount – the maximum allowed at law. This is very expensive. Our fees are usually much lower than that. Please note, however, that while we do offer a 25% fee cap in personal injury claims, this does not apply to medical negligence claims. The reason for this is simple: these claims can be much more difficult and often require significantly more work.
Before you engage us, we will provide you a written Disclosure Notice and a Client Service Agreement. These documents set out in detail the service we provide, as well as our fees and outlays. Before you sign anything, you can take these documents home with you, and study them with your family. You can take as long as you need, there is never any pressure from us. If anything in these documents doesn’t make sense to you, we can discuss it with you and you are free to ask another lawyer to give you advice. And remember, no win – no fee agreements come with a 5 day cooling off period for extra peace of mind.