Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Medical Negligence Claims in Australia

24 June 2016
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Medical negligence can result in very serious consequences for a patient and can sometimes even result in their death. This is why you can file a medical negligence claim in order to receive compensation if such negligence is proven. Only an attorney can advise you about your claim in particular, but note a few commonly asked questions about these types of claims so you know if you should discuss your concerns with an attorney.

Can a family member file a claim after someone has died?

It is possible to file a medical negligence claim after someone has died. There is a limit as to who may bring these claims, meaning the close relatives or heirs of the deceased, and of course the death needs to have been the result of negligence and not something due to old age, a condition that could not be treated, and so on. An attorney can note if you have a valid claim after someone in your close family has died due to what you feel is medical negligence.

Can you file a claim for near misses?

Near misses refers to mistakes that doctors and hospitals came close to making, but which didn't actually result in negligence or damage to a patient. For example, a nurse may be ready to administer a medication but then a doctor steps in and notes that he or she has the wrong patient. You may realize that such a medication could have been very dangerous for you, but such near misses are not typically grounds for a claim as you weren't actually injured. An attorney can tell you if such cases might result in a claim for you, but typically they will simply advise that you file a complaint with a medical board so that they can investigate a doctor's safety procedures, if they deem it necessary.

What if a hospital won't allow me access to my medical records?

Doctors and hospitals are required to give patients access to their own medical records, unless they feel that it may be damaging to you mentally, emotionally, or physically for some reason. If you've tried to get copies of your records, be sure you've noted that you're allowed them under the "Freedom of Information" claims; if a hospital or doctor still refuses, note their reason for this refusal. You can then discuss this with a negligence attorney so he or she can determine if the hospital is acting in good faith or if additional actions need to be taken to access your records.