Find Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia for Medical Negligence

Practice Area Overview

The health sector industry in Australia faces many pressures as industry reforms and funding restrictions combine with rising levels of patient demand and expectations to place increased stress on health service providers. While advances in the health field have brought significant patient benefits, they have also introduced new challenges. As a result, the field of medical negligence law in Australia is an evolving one as it continues to grow and adapt in a constantly-changing environment.

All health services and health professionals owe a duty to exercise reasonable care and skill in the provision of treatment and advice to their patients. A patient, their relatives, or their dependents who have suffered injury or loss as a result of a failure to adhere to this standard by health services or health professionals may seek compensation.

A significant part of the work of a medical negligence lawyer centres around civil claims for compensation. Lawyers acting for either plaintiffs or defendants are involved in a variety of litigated and un-litigated claims. In the pre-litigation stage, the lawyer will provide advice on the likelihood of success or potential liability exposure and the financial and non-financial consequences of pursuing or defending the claim.

Once litigation is commenced, the lawyer's focus is on bringing the matter to a speedy resolution, with minimum financial and emotional expense to the client. The lawyer needs to have experience in the particular jurisdiction in which the case is being run, however, because each State and Territory in Australia has introduced its own tort reforms and has different pre-trial processes, statutory limitation periods, and court rules.

Obtaining expert evidence about the standard of care and the ramifications of a breach of that standard of care is crucial for a medical negligence claim. The lawyer needs to have a good knowledge of appropriate experts to call on and of the clinical area in which the claim arose in order to properly brief the expert and advise the client on prospects.

Increasingly, patients and their families take action in addition to a claim for compensation. A specialist medical negligence lawyer is able to assist with complaints made to a State-based Health Complaints Commission, to a professional registration board or its managing entity known as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and before the Coroner where a patient has died.

Regulatory bodies require notification of adverse patient outcomes and reassurance that a review is conducted, often in the form of a root cause analysis, in order to prevent recurrence of a similar event. Your legal practitioner will ensure legislative compliance in this regard.

As the challenges facing the health sector grow, the provision of advisory services has come to the fore. Lawyers work alongside executives of a health care facility and medical teams to develop risk management and patient safety strategies, both pre-emptively and in response to incidents.

In this regard, a medical negligence lawyer in Australia provides a comprehensive range of claims management and advisory services to assist health sector clients manage claims and complaints, to assist with risk management, and to adapt to the complex clinical and regulatory environments in which they operate.

Shane Evans, partner MinterEllison

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