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Medical Litigation in the News:

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NSW: Patient awarded $7.2 million in compensation for cerebral palsy caused by negligence

The NSW Court of Appeal last week found that Kaled Elayoubi's catastrophic injuries were caused by the negligence of obstetricians at two hospitals. Mr Elayoubi's cerebral palsy and other brain damage occurred when he was starved of oxygen after his mother's uterus ruptured during birth. Mr Elayoubi, 24, needs round-the-clock care.

Mr Elayoubi was born at Bankstown hospital. The defendants which were successfully sued were Dr Gabriel Zipser and Bankstown Hospital (South Western Sydney Area Health Service) and Northern Health.

Source: SMH online 7.12.08.


WA: Alleged medical negligence claim against surgeon

Robert Pollard has revealed to the Sunday Times his difficulties in suing Dr David Kay Kennedy. Mr Pollard of WA alleged that his operation was botched- cartilage in his ankle was sucked out, leaving bone on bone. Mr Pollard and another patient with similar injuries complained to the Medical Board about the doctor, David Kay Kennedy who was prohibited from doing surgery again.

Mr Pollard claimed $600,000 in damages, however Dr Kennedy's insurance company didn't cover him, and a week after he and the other patient gained consent orders from the court, the doctor moved to go bankrupt. In February, Mr Pollard accepted just $6000 as an unsecured creditor.

Dr Kennedy is now earning a living providing expert opinion reports as an "approved medical specialist" for WorkCover WA. Mr Pollard has clinical depression which followed years of pain and immobility and he has had to go on a disability pension.

Source: PerthNow 5.12.08, Colleen Egan.



NSW: Parents successfully settle drug case: Misoprostol

RELIEF gave way to emotion as the parents of a six-year-old boy born with cerebral palsy as the result of a controversial drug trial, settled their cases against Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Source: SMH 22.11.07

UP to 12 mothers who had disabled children after a drug trial could sue a hospital for millions of dollars after it agreed to pay more than $750,000 to a woman whose child was born with cerebral palsy.  Source: The Age 19.11.07.

More than 1,000 women may have taken part in the trial at hospitals across Australia, including 250 women at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital. Source: ABC news  21.11.07.



Quadriplegic negligence case dismissed

A man left quadriplegic after falling from a tree in an aborted suicide attempt has failed in his bid to sue a hospital for not properly treating his mental health problems.

Timothy Walker fractured his spine after falling from a tree in the backyard of his Glenbrook home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in March 2001.

The then 19-year-old climbed the tree to hang himself just 11 days after being discharged from the Pialla Unit, a psychiatric wing of Nepean Hospital, following a previous suicide attempt.

He claimed the hospital should have prescribed him anti-depressant or anti-psychotic medication, counselled him and detained him as an involuntary patient for at least two weeks for assessment.

But NSW Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Simpson on Friday dismissed the negligence lawsuit, ruling that Sydney West Area Health Service staff had not failed to act "in a manner that ... was widely accepted in Australia by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice".

Justice Simpson found hospital doctors had assessed Mr Walker and decided not to give him anti-depressants because he refused to give up drinking alcohol, which could cause a reaction with the medication.

She also found the health service conducted home visits after his discharge, during which he reported feeling better.

Justice Simpson ordered Mr Walker to pay the health service's legal costs.

Source: SMH 25.05.07


Poor referral info may leave GPs liable in medical litigation

Doctors who fail to include vital patient information such as allergy and medication status in hospital referral letters may find themselves legally liable if a patient is harmed as a result. The warning came after an audit of GP referral letters to hospital outpatient and emergency wards in one division found only 58% included medication details and 52% allergy status.

Medico-legal expert and GP Dr Craig Lilienthal said there was little excuse for GPs who failed to pass on such vital information when referring patients to hospitals or outpatient care.

The study, by Victoria’s Eastern Health GP Liaison team, also found that of 192 letters written in December 2005, only 62% included patients’ past histories.

 (Medical Observer, 6 October 2006)





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