How to know if your doctor has been negligent

Hospitals are often under resourced and doctors and nurses are being required to work onerous hours under significant stress. The law in medical negligence plays an important role in ensuring that each individual is duly compensated but also provides a financial incentive for Hospitals and doctors to act in accordance with the law.

In NSW, a doctor is negligent if he/she fails to take precautions against a risk of harm, the risk of harm was foreseeable, was not insignificant and a reasonable person in the person’s position would have taken those precautions.

In considering whether a reasonable person would have taken precautions against a risk of harm, the following factors are considered:

1. the probability that the harm would occur if care were not taken;
2. the likely seriousness of the harm;
3. the burden of taking precautions to avoid the risk of harm;
4. the social utility of the activity that creates the risk of harm; and
5. the burden of taking precautions to avoid the risk of harm.

The next consideration is whether your doctor acted in a manner that was widely accepted in Australia by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice. To establish this, it is necessary to obtain an expert report from a relevant medical professional. This is a burdensome and expensive obstacle to overcome as expert reports can be expensive.

If an individual has a medical negligence concern, it is always recommended that they obtain legal advice.

Bernard McAuley, Solicitor
McAuley Hawach Lawyers
11 Fennell Street, Parramatta NSW 2124
Telephone: (02) 9633 1826
Facsimile: (02) 9687 8114 (02) 9687 8114

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