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The Law and You: Have I just had bad luck with my doctor – or am I entitled to compensation?

HerCanberra Team

Most residents of the ACT will be fortunate enough to benefit from high quality care from their doctors and hospitals when they need to seek medical attention.

Unfortunately, in a small number of cases, the treatment falls short of that high standard, and a patient is left worse off than when they started.

We spoke to Kate Waterford, a medical negligence specialist at Maliganis Edwards Johnson (MEJ), about making a claim in this growing area of personal injury law.

“In the ACT, this kind of claim is governed by the common law, as well as by legislation such as the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 (ACT),” Kate explained.

“What people often do not realise is that they have to act quickly in formally notifying the doctors or hospitals of their claim.  It is not a difficult procedure to complete with legal guidance, but if people wait too long, wondering whether they have a right to compensation, they might leave it too long and lose their rights altogether.

“Doctors have a duty to exercise a reasonable standard of care when they are assessing and treating their patients, and if their care falls short of that standard, and the patient suffers injury as a result, the patient may be entitled to compensation for their losses.

“That does not necessarily mean that the doctor is liable just because in retrospect it turns out that a different treatment approach might have been better.  It is important for an expert to consider whether the choices the doctor made and treatment they provided were negligent in all of the circumstances, based on the information the doctor had available to them at the time.”

Medical negligence claims can be based on a doctor’s failure to diagnose an injury or condition on a timely basis, surgical errors, a failure to refer to a specialist where necessary, a failure to provide proper follow-up, and more.  Claims can also be brought against therapists and other types of treatment providers.

Kate explained, “At Maliganis Edwards Johnson, we have access to hundreds of medical experts across Australia, who help us to work out whether the patient has a compensable injury.  Every medical negligence claim is different.  We adapt each claim to the individual involved and give them the opportunity to find out about their rights.”

It can be useful to record in writing exactly what happened in the doctor’s care, and keep records of any documentation and clinical records from treatment providers.

Image of woman speaking with her doctor from This is a sponsored post. 


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