A visit to a Hospital Emergency Department in Australia can be stressful and chaotic. You generally hadn’t expected to be there and you don’t have a choice about the doctor you see. Emergency Department doctors can be anything from consultants who have lots of experience to newly qualified registrars. Some have very little emergency medicine experience and are at a greater risk of making mistakes or being unable to diagnose your condition. Whilst most Accident Department visits have a successful outcome there are times when things go wrong, and you may need advice from a medical negligence solicitor.
Negligent Acts of Omission & Commission
Medical negligence in Australia can involve an act of omission or an act of commission. An act of omission means that the doctor failed to do something he or she should have done. This can include failing to diagnose a condition based on symptoms you have that are obvious for one disease or another. An act of commission means the doctor did something, such as a procedure, that was unnecessary and that led to physical or emotional damage to you. Both can lead to a medical negligence solicitor being instructed to take legal action.
Full & Accurate Disclosure
Emergency medicine is a unique area of medicine. The doctor you see tends not to have your personal history and often doesn’t have the medical records from your doctor’s surgery to know exactly what medicines you are on and what procedures and tests you’ve had in the past. This means it is up to the patient to tell the doctor everything necessary to make a diagnosis. It means you tell the doctor your pertinent medical history, the history of the symptoms and whether you have had them before, your current medications, and medication allergies. If you fail to give the doctor the right information, it will not make sense to instruct a medical negligence solicitor to make a compensation claim against the emergency doctor if something goes wrong due to your failure to transmit relevant information.
A medical negligence solicitor in Australia can take legal action for compensation against the doctor, the hospital or both, depending on what happened and what went wrong. Sometimes the hospital is negligent for employing an inexperienced doctor in the first place and sometimes the hospital is negligent because of a procedure that went wrong. The doctor can be negligent for failure to make a diagnosis, especially if another skilled doctor would have logically made a correct diagnosis, ordering a test or procedure that causes you harm or providing you with a treatment or medication that causes you harm. In almost all cases a medical negligence compensation claim is made against the organisation that runs the hospital and employs the medical staff.
If you have a bad outcome in an Australian Hospital Emergency Department, you need to seek the advice of a medical negligence solicitor. This is a lawyer who is knowledgeable in medical issues and who can search through the issues related to your case to see if, in fact, you have a case. If you think you have suffered from medical negligence, you should initially make a complaint to the hospital. They may be able to put right what happened. If you are not happy, you need to seek the advice of a medical negligence solicitor in order to know what your legal options are.
Temporary Management of Illness
The Emergency department of any hospital is a chaotic place, which is ripe for medical mistakes. The doctors are often seeing more than one patient at a time and there are often life and death issues going on. Doctors have the goal of seeing you as quickly as possible and sending you out with measures that will at least temporarily manage your problem until you see your regular doctor. It may involve giving you pain relief, setting a bone, diagnosing a pain you cannot explain, or stitching a cut or laceration. While your past medical history and medication list is important, doctors may be too busy to take the time to look these over and mistakes can be made. All Hospital Emergency Departments are a uniquely risky place to get healthcare.
You shouldn’t see an Emergency Department doctor for something that is truly not an emergency and emergency areas are not good places for primary care. The doctor can’t spend the time and effort with you that you may need. It is not the job of the emergency doctor to focus on minor ailments that are non-urgent so you cannot sue an emergency doctor for failing to deal with trivial items, unless your symptoms are reasonably severe. Emergency care can be tenuous and fraught with mistakes. It is not a good setting to receive thorough medical care so you should be your own advocate when it comes to knowing what to tell the doctor, what procedures to accept and what questions you need to ask when it comes to getting the right kind of care.
Accident Department Fatality – Coroners Inquest
The purpose of an Ausralian inquest which is an official, public enquiry and is presided over by a coroner is to identify the deceased and determine the place and cause of death. An inquest hears witnesses who may be required by law to attend but does not apportion blame for the death and has a limited number of verdicts which include accidental death, misadventure, suicide, open verdict, natural causes and unlawful killing. A witness does not have to be represented by a solicitor and may just turn up at the court and request to be heard which is at the discretion of the coroner. An inquest does not normally take place if a postmortem has explained the cause of death except in the following cases which may be heard with a jury: –
murder, manslaughter or infanticide
death in prison
accident, poisoning or disease
road traffic accident
continuing danger to the health or safety of the public
Whilst questions of civil or criminal liability are not considered, the findings of the Coroners Court can nevertheless have great bearing on subsequent civil or criminal matters including medical negligence compensation claims. Any person who has an interest in the case may examine a witness or they may be legally represented by a solicitor or barrister who can ask questions of witnesses on their behalf. Classes of those who may examine a witness in the Coroners Court include family and next of kin, executors and administrators of the estate, those who caused the death and representatives of relevant insurance companies.
The verdict of the Coroner may have substantial financial implications on the family or beneficiaries of the deceased and it may be that they require representation to ensure that the matter is properly dealt with and that the findings of the Coroners Court reflect the true circumstances of the death. As an example, a finding of suicide may preclude substantial life insurance payments that would otherwise have been available if the finding had been accidental death.
Any person who has a genuine and proper interest in the inquest can give evidence or ask questions of a witness or be legally represented by a solicitor or barrister to do so, at the discretion of the coroner. Those most likely to wish to make enquiries of witnesses include close family and next of kin, personal representatives of the estate of the deceased, representatives of the place where the deceased was resident at the time of death which may include a prison, hospital or other institution, the person(s) who may have caused the death and insurance companies who may have a financial interest in the outcome of the inquest, all of whom may wish to be represented by a solicitor. In addition, if the death occurred due to an accident at work there may be others with a proper interest in the outcome of the inquest including trade unions, the employer, and others at the coroner’s discretion, who may also be represented by a lawyer.