24/7 Legal Helpline NSW: 1800 455 886
Our specialist medical solicitors deal with medical negligence compensation claims arising within the private and public healthcare systems of New South Wales, Australia. They can provide you with obligation-free legal advice if you have received substandard medical care, treatment, diagnosis or medical advice.
Below you will find information on medical errors within NSW and an overview of the law of negligence. This information is intended to be a guide only, and you should not rely on it as legal advice. If you require specific advice regarding your eligibility for medical negligence compensation or on how to make a complaint with the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), contact our legal team today.
Medical Law Cases
The types of medical negligence claims that are handled by our medical lawyers include:
- Doctor negligence
- Specialist negligence
- Claims against hospitals (both public and private)
- Medical centre negligence, including liability on the part of medical receptionists
- Claims against other health professionals such as midwives, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, optometrists, naturopaths.
Areas of medicine where claims have arisen:
- Misdiagnosis of conditions such as cancer, appendicitis, meningitis, cardiomyopathy.
- Birth trauma, cerebral palsy, brain damage.
- Surgical error – negligence in gynaecology, urology, neurosurgery, orthopaedic procedures.
- Failure to diagnose and treat intra-operative and post-operative complications, including infection.
- Medication or prescription error.
- Failure to refer to a specialist.
- Failure to order appropriate tests, failure to interpret results correctly and failure to follow-up on results, including blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, mammograms, MRI’s, biopsy results.
NSW Compensation Laws
Prior to 2001, medical negligence law in NSW was covered by the common law. In early 2001, there was extensive media coverage regarding an alleged “medical indemnity crisis”, with doctor’s lobby groups complaining that doctor’s premiums had become unaffordable. HIH, a re-insurer for many medical defense organisations, entered provisional liquidation.
The NSW State government responded by passing the Health Care Liability Act 2001.This legislation effectively limited the amount of damages that could be awarded in health care claims. In 2002, the Civil Liability Act was passed, repealing most of the Health Care Liability Act.
Currently, common law principles and the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) (“the Act”) apply in determining the standard of care required of doctors, breach in duty of care, causation, damages and defences. Below is a general overview of relevant provisions from the Act.
- Standard of care for professionals: s5O
- Breach of duty: s5B
- Obvious risks: ss5F, 5G, 5H
- Inherent risks: s5I
- Causation: s5D
- Onus of proof: s5E
- Contributory negligence: s5R
- Personal injury damages: Part 2
Also relevant is the limitation period for taking action, and this can be found in ss18A and 50C of the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW).
In very basic terms, to establish a claim for negligence, the patient must prove a duty of care was owed, that duty of care was breached, and this breach caused damage. Damage must be recognisable by law and can be physical damage, psychological damage or financial loss.
The amount of compensation awarded is capped in the sense that the Act contains thresholds and caps on various types of compensatory damages that can be awarded. An unfortunate situation may arise where a doctor has been negligent, however the damage is minimal, not high enough to reach the statutory threshold, so the patient is left without recourse to compensation.
In these circumstances, the only real avenue for the patient is to complain to one of the regulatory bodies such as the Health Care Complaints Commission of NSW (HCCC), which may investigate issues of performance or conduct of the medical professional, but has no power to award compensation.
Complaints Against Doctors
Complaints regarding conduct, performance, fitness to practise and related disciplinary issues should be raised with the HCCC. The HCCC investigates such matters and the tribunal hears the most serious of disciplinary cases brought by the HCCC. A Professional Standards Committee hears less serious matters.
The protection of the public is the primary goal of health profession regulation. These public authorities deal with matters relating to a doctor’s health condition (such as impairment), performance-related issues, suitability to hold registration, competence and conduct issues.
Disciplinary action may result in findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct, with the doctor being suspended or having conditions imposed on their registration, or having to surrender their registration. Many of these cases involve doctors with drug issues, alcohol intoxication, and inappropriate sexual relations with a patient.
If as a patient you have concerns regarding doctor negligence, medical error or hospital negligence, and you have suffered an injury, physical or psychological as a result of the care you received, you may wish to seek legal advice. You should speak with a solicitor specialising in medical negligence law in NSW.
There are time limits that apply in making a claim, so do not delay in contacting a lawyer. Our NSW injury claims solicitors can assist in clinical compensation matters as well as professional misconduct complaints against health care professionals. Call our free helpline or complete the online contact form.
24/7 Legal Helpline NSW: 1800 455 886