Just about every Australian will pay a visit to a medical practitioner of one form or another in their lifetime. The medical industry does not only refer to doctors, surgeons, and hospitals but also encompasses dentists, physiotherapists, pharmacies, chiropractors and more.

Medical Negligence: What Is It and When Does It Occur?

Most people have heard the terms of medical negligence or medical malpractice. But what is medical negligence exactly, what are some examples and scenarios, and when can you conceivably make a claim for medical negligence?

These are the points we’ll cover in this post.

Medical Negligence Explained

All medical practitioners and staff have a certain expected level of duty of care towards their patients. This also applies to the premises where any form of medical practice is taking place. It’s when this duty of care has been breached or is below par that medical negligence has taken place.

A simple example of medical negligence would not be thoroughly disinfecting medical instruments or keeping the environment hygienically clean.

Medical negligence is more common than people realize, and the reason why many attorneys medical negligence lawyer. Most of the time it occurs through a lack of due diligence, rather than being a deliberate act.

We’ll take a look at some fairly common scenarios of medical negligence to illustrate what it’s about.

A Failure To Diagnose Or a Misdiagnosis

On occasion, a doctor will fail to make a diagnosis of a problem, or the diagnosis will be delayed, usually resulting in the condition progressively deteriorating. Some clinics are extremely busy and GPs have very limited time with each patient, and this is a scenario where a lack of a diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can occur.

Alternatively, a medical condition or illness can be wrongly diagnosed. An example might be where a sore throat is diagnosed to be due to an irritation or the common cold, where in actual fact it might be something far more severe like influenza or the onset of throat cancer.

Contracting a Disease During a Hospital Stay

Let’s face it, hospitals are filled with sick people, so they are a prime environment to spread disease and contract something whilst in there. While even the very best hygienic practices and routines cannot guarantee that no germs will be spread, if a hospital or doctor’s clinic falls below the expected hygiene standards, then this is really a form of medical negligence.

Sometimes after an operation or some other invasive surgical procedure, an infection can occur. At times this might be something beyond the control of medical staff, but more often it would be the result of a lack of hygiene, or a lack of care when performing the procedure.

Foreign Objects Left Inside a Patient

This is something that you often see on the news, where a patient had an operation which was followed by serious complications. Upon further examination and X-Rays, it’s discovered that a surgical instrument or sponge was left inside the patient.

Staff working in the operating theatre are supposed to maintain a count of all tools and instruments used, and make certain that count is the same at the end of the procedure as it was at the start. This is to ensure nothing has been left behind inside.

The Wrong Medication Or Dosage Prescribed

If a doctor misdiagnoses your condition, then there’s a very good chance they’ll prescribe the wrong medication to treat what’s really wrong with you. This can result in either the condition simply not improving, or giving you side effects from a medication designed for another purpose.

Even if the correct medication is prescribed, the right dosage is also vital for a positive outcome. Too little and the medication will prove ineffective. Too much and it could produce unnecessary complications.

Talk To a Lawyer

If you suspect you’ve suffered due to medical negligence, then talk to a law firm that specializes in medical negligence cases and has a track record of successful compensation claims. Don’t just sweep it under the carpet. Talk to a professional so you know where you legally stand.