Medical Negligence? Where may it be more likely to occur…

Many a case of medical negligence in hospitals can relate to treatment at emergency departments and maternity wards. The potentially fatal outcome of medication errors in the hospital context is also another area of concern.

Emergency departments may be staffed by doctors with less experience, perhaps making them more prone to negligence; or, midwives may face the predicament of a complex birthing situation where an obstetrician should have been present.

There have also been instances of negligence where there are a number of treating practitioners and/or the involvement of nursing staff. Patients have sustained injuries or have even died when they have been prescribed medication that conflicts with another prescribed medication and checks have not been properly performed. This at times has been linked to the failure to properly communicate and/or properly complete mediation charts and records. It has also been linked to a lack of education of nursing staff with respect to medication.

In one case, an elderly patient after undergoing surgery was prescribed blood thinning medication. When it was found that he had developed clots, a decision was made to place him on alternate blood thinning medication. Thereafter, a further decision was made to again change the blood thinning medication.

Unfortunately, both the prescribing doctor and a nurse at the hospital failed to properly complete the patient’s medication chart once this further decision had been made. Consequently, the nursing staff proceeded to give the patient both blood thinning medications. This occurred on two occasions and as result, the patient suffered a massive haemorrhage and lost his life.

The Coroner found that the ‘correct procedure to cancel the prior blood thinning medication was not followed by both medical and nursing personnel and that there was inadequate communication and hand over about the change in medication between medical and nursing staff’. Furthermore, the Coroner found that the ‘nursing staff administering the blood thinning medications were not aware that the two drugs could not be given together because they had not received appropriate training and education’.

Out of the hospital environment, medical negligence can at times be related to General Practitioners choosing to treat patients for more complex illnesses rather than refer them to an appropriate specialist; or, there are circumstances were patients may undergo unnecessary treatment at times with undesirable long term side effects.

If you believe that you or someone you know may have been subjected to such treatment, we would be happy to talk through things with you, free of any charge or obligation to proceed.

Samantha Curro

McAuley Hawach Lawyers

11 Fennell Street, Parramatta NSW 2124

Telephone: (02) 9633 1826

Facsimile: (02) 9687 8114 (02) 9687 8114



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