What Actually Is Medical Negligence, And How Can You Prove It?

Medical Negligence

Regrettably, professionals in the medical field are susceptible to error, especially if they’re inexperienced and new procedures are introduced, so lives can be compromised and even lost. Clinicians, patients, and policymakers often underestimate the magnitude of this problem and fail to make it a priority. Australia fails to keep up with the United States of America or New Zealand as far as investing in non-adversarial approaches to medical harm resolution is concerned. A no-fault system in dealing with medical negligence would accept that injuries are an accepted risk, so the claimant would have to prove that the medical error was a causative factor in the resulting injury, regardless of who was to blame.

Indeed, Australia offers open disclosure to patients harmed while receiving health care, but open disclosure isn’t the same as admitting legal liability or negligence. Medical errors are the leading causes of injury and death. Nevertheless, not all medical errors are acts of medical negligence. Medical negligence can be unfortunate and have long-term physical, mental, and emotional effects, impacting the individual and their family. It’s possible to file a claim and win a lawsuit against a medical provider, so have your case reviewed by a lawyer to see if you’re eligible for damages.

What Does Negligence Mean in Healthcare?

Medical negligence, commonly referred to as medical malpractice, is the act or failure to take reasonable care or steps to prevent an injury to a patient. It can arise from misdiagnosis, delays in treatment, and other harm. Simply put, a professional has breached their responsibility, and this negligence has caused real damage, typically physical and psychological harm. Claims for damages emerging from medical negligence occur in the courts, yet the Health Complaints Commissioner can help parties reach a resolution, acting independently and impartially. You can make a complaint about any healthcare provider, whether a public or a private hospital.

Medical accidents represent an expected social phenomenon. There are many possible examples of medical negligence. For example, a doctor can make a mistake while prescribing medication, an error that rarely happens in a vacuum. More exactly, other healthcare professionals, of which examples can be made of nurses and pharmacists, see and review the prescribing information. A physician may prescribe the wrong type of medication due to an incorrect diagnosis, for instance. The difficulty in a medical negligence case lies in determining who is at fault because liability can be shared by more than one party.

Australia Has a Tort Law System Comparable to The United Kingdom

Australia focuses exclusively on tort law, descended from English law. Just for clarification purposes, a tort law system, the basis for personal injury lawsuits, aims to redress the wrongdoing resulting in injury, harm, or loss. It compensates the victim of the accident and deters potential defendants from endangering others. If there’s no consensus on liability or the amount of compensation to be awarded, the claimant and the defendant will eventually go to trial. Compensation is awarded for the loss of past and future income, pain and suffering, and medical expenses, to name a few.

The English system has been long based on a system of nominate torts, in other words, legally recognised civil wrongs with specific names. For medical negligence, there’s evidence that the tort system fails patients, families, and healthcare providers. Tort litigation is often blamed for reducing the willingness of organisations and individuals to take reasonable risks, although there’s scarce evidence for such claims. If you’d like to learn more about the tort liability system in the United Kingdom, please visit How Much Compensation (https://www.howmuchcompensation.co.uk/). The aim of tort law is full compensation whenever possible. A lump sum award is preferred.

What Can You Get Compensation For?

If medical negligence is proven, you can seek compensation for general damages and/or special damages. General damages, or non-economic losses, touch upon the injuries for which an exact dollar value can’t be calculated, so they can be awarded for pain and suffering or loss of the quality of life due to disfigurement. Special damages refer to losses you’ve suffered prior to the date of trial capable of arithmetical calculation. Hospital expenses are a good example. Special damages can also be awarded for rehabilitation costs, loss of income, and travel and accommodation expenses. In Australia, exemplary damages have been limited to cases where the defendant engages in conscious wrongdoing, disregarding the claimant’s rights.

It’s Very Difficult to Prove Medical Negligence

To be successful in a medical negligence claim, you must prove there has been a breach of duty, the negligent treatment caused you harm, and you sustained an injury as a result of that negligence. In other words, you must demonstrate the identified breach of care led to an outcome that could have been avoided. The burden of proof is on the claimant, who must show that, on the balance of probabilities, the medical practitioner caused the harm or loss. The court decides whether the matter has been proven. All forums must apply the appropriate standard of proof when judging the truth of facts.

The doctor, hospital, or insurance company might state your injury is the consequence of an underlying illness or medical condition, meaning it can be challenging to prove you would have had a better outcome if the physician had acted differently. Therefore, it’s necessary to obtain evidence from independent experts to support your claim. You must appoint a neutral third party to issue an opinion on the dispute. They must be someone who is qualified to speak with authority, so if a general practitioner has provided a substandard treatment, you need another general practitioner to provide their input.


Medical negligence payout amounts can range from thousands to millions of dollars, but cases are difficult to win due to the complexities involved. For example, it might be hard to find an expert willing to testify against another doctor. Very few physicians are willing to break the code of silence. Commence proceedings within three years from the date you became aware of the injury to avoid the risks of missing out on compensation. Equally important is to seek legal advice.


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