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Joelle Matar discussing Medical Negligence Law on 2GB – 4 August 2020

Joelle Matar providing Q & A on the 2GB Afternoon Show with Deborah Knight discussing Medical Negligence Law 4 August 2020

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

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DK –Deborah Knight – JM – Joelle Matar /C1,2,3, etc – Callers

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DK        All right now on Legal Matters today, we are looking at an area of the law, it can be really upsetting, confusing and cause a lot trauma. It’s medical negligence and it can come in a matter of forms, like a misdiagnosis or a surgery that goes wrong. So to talk us through it today is Joelle Matar, a medical negligence specialist at Turner Freeman Lawyers. Joelle, thanks for joining us.

JM      Thank you for having me Debby – it’s good to speak to you again.

DK        Thank you – and as always our open line number – 131 873 – this is free legal advice – so give us a call – 131 873 and we’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher for the best caller as well in the segment. So Joelle, at its most basic, medical negligence – what does it cover?

JM         Look, as you said – it is lots of different things – it could be a delay in diagnosis of a condition that could be treated – it’s not diagnosed in time and you are then treated a little bit later than you should be and you end up sustaining an injury. It could be surgical mishap – so you know – you go into have a procedure – someone doesn’t risk or care and you know you end up with an injury or it could even be operating on the wrong limb – so although it’s as simple as you know the right and the left side, sometimes things actually do get confused intra-operatively and you might end up having surgery on an organ that is actually health – like the wrong kidney for example.

DK        Yes – and that’s at the extreme end of things, but it can happen in any medical setting – it can happen even from a consultation with a GP where you are misdiagnosed right through to like you say major surgery.

JM         Yes.  And look a lot of those things tend to be cancer – so you know – you’d go in – say you were having abdominal pain or you were having bleeding when you were have a bowel movement and you know you go back to your GP and you – you know I am having abdominal pain – these are the issues – and a lot of the times you know – they are put down to quite trivial things but I think the idea is that you get referred say to a gastroenterologist in this particular case – you get a colonoscopy and you have it investigated – and this is the issue that as a GP, if you are not sure, refer to a specialist – have the adequate investigations to really figure out what’s causing this person’s symptoms.  Is it something as trivial as – look I don’t know – change in their diet or bowel cancer for example.

DK        All right – well that takes us to Andrew, our first caller and it relates to what we are talking about. G’day Andrew.

Caller 1 –  Andrew

Andrew          Hi how are you Deb?

DK                  Yeah – good – good. What was your question?

Andrew          Ahhh just a question – it’s a long back story with a lot of complications and a lot bits and pieces to it but down the knits and grits of it – I had a fall out of the company truck – both wrists I came back on – I went to the company doctor – company doctor looked at me and said “oh months light duty”– come back – I said I’m still sore – I’m still sore – but he put me back on pre-injury duties. Now during that period, it was about 7 months after that point – where I just went – you know what? I can’t handle it any more – went back got an MRI – I’ve actually ruptured my ligaments in both wrists – so therefore enquired on operations later – the left one I’ve got limited movement – the right one is fused with plates. Now, I went through the compensation stuff with the lawyers – they were all good about it – that was done and dusted and they said look – we’ve got a good case for medical negligence on the GP part. I said okay – cool because the thing is I’m asking why did not he refer me to someone else if he wasn’t quite sure what was going on. And now the lawyers have come back and saying that no you haven’t got a case because the doctor acted conservatively on the actual initial appointment. So where – so my question is – where does this lie?

DK        Yes – where does it lie Joelle?  Does he not have a case because he wasn’t referred to a specialist?

JM         Look, I can’t comment on you know how the matter was handled by his solicitors because I don’t really have the records – I haven’t conducted the investigation they have – all I can say to him is if he gives me a call later on, we can have a chat – I’ll get a bit more information from him and maybe I’d be able to have another look at it with fresh eyes.

DK        Yes – always a good one. Andrew stay on the line.

JM         Yeah.

DK        We’ll get your details and we’ll put you in touch with Joelle and to see if we can investigate that little bit further for you. Peter has called in too with a question. Hi Peter.

Caller 2 – Peter

Peter               Oh hi Deb – how are you?

DK                  Yeah good.

Peter               Um – quick question – my father had surgery at a very well-known hospital going back about 4 odd years ago – he was 88 years of age and they his bladder due to prostate issues and they pierced his bowel in the operation – which is a 7 hour operation – oh it was about a 4 hour operation I should say and he developed sepsis within around about 36 hours and was dying.

DK        Goodness.

Peter     Yep, yep. And a very well-known hospital up there in Kings Cross Deb. And one of the top surgeons. And anyway – it was an emergency surgery – I got a phone call at 20 past 4 on the Saturday morning – Mr McGuire, would you please be …… we’re letting you know your father is having emergency surgery – just letting you know – that was at 5:00 am on the Saturday morning – 7 hours and they solved the issued and he recovered for 12 days actually – had a massive heart attack and died and brought him back at the hospital and the doctor said we went back and saw him and he said well you’re alive – there’s nothing you can do.  So I’m in the corporate world – I understand doctors are – they protect each other – I’m just wondering from Joelle is there any chance of having a chat?

JM         Well I’m sorry to hear that first off – I mean that sounds absolutely terrible – what an ordeal. Look there may be something that we can do – things like bowel perforation during surgery – they are complications that are quite known to occur. Having said that, we have to look at the mechanisms of injury and to see if it something that could have been avoided had something been done differently. So it is something that we might be able to look into for your dad.

DK        And how is his health now Peter?

Peter     He’s living in an aged care facility – he’s doubly incontinent – so I’ll let you figure for any viewers or anyone that’s not sure what that is – think about it and he’s life has been severely compromised – but he’s live and he’s in an aged care facility with my dear mum and living under COVID.

JM         Okay – well you know hopefully, hopefully there is something that we can do.

DK        Yes – an ordeal is definitely the way to explain it. Peter – we’ll put you in contact with Joelle as well and see if we can get you some joy there and some help with your dad too – because that sounds like a terrible thing to have had to endured.  Glen’s got a question for you too Joelle.  Hi Glen.

Caller 3 –  Glen

Glen    Hi how are you going?

DK      Yeah good.

Glen    Yeah – just a quick one – my girlfriend had an appendix removed at Wyong Hospital and after the operation she was in severe pain – They tell her that she couldn’t be and find out that she had to go back in like a week and a half later go have a gallstone removed – they had the wrong organ removed like you said earlier – So we just want to give you a ring and ask you the question.

JM      That sounds quite strange. So she went in to have her appendix removed and they removed her gallbladder is that what you’re saying?

Glen    No  she went in to have – to find out what was wrong with her and she had her appendix removed and that wasn’t the problem – a week and a half later she had to go back to have the gallstone – — gallbladder removed.

JM      Oh way – that’s …….

Glen    She had her appendix taken out for no reason.

JM      Wow – that sounds quite strange. I’m going to need a little bit more information because obviously it depends on her symptoms and the pain that she was complaining of and whether or not they did any ultrasounds to see whether there was something actually wrong with the appendix.  So, I’m happy to have a chat to you or even your girlfriend about all of that.

DK      All right we’re going to have a busy slate for you Joelle after this today, but well Glen – can you stay on hold, we’ll put you in contact with Joelle and follow that one up for you too. David – what did you want to know for us today?

Caller 4 –  David

David  Is that me?

DK      Yeah that’s you David – yes.

David  I had a friend and she was going to a doctor that women specialists right and I took her there and she had skin tags and they cut them off and they sent them away and they came back cancerous but he said Oh don’t worry – they’re only skin tags. A couple of months later she got them burnt it off by the same doctor and then they grew back again and she went back again and he was going to cut them off again and I took her to a specialist and the specialist took one look and said Any skin tags to be on a woman, is cancerous.  So we went to the Royal Brisbane Hospital – they operated on her within 2 weeks and they cut a —— Yeah – a big operation – they cut them out and that – and she then had to have her lymph nodes out.

DK      So it turned out that it was cancerous? Goodness me.

David  Well – apparently where she has it – the position she had them in – the doctor said any growth there at all is cancerous.

DK      What’s David’s options there? Or David’s friend Joelle?

JM      It really depends on the length of time – so what the delay in diagnosis of the cancer is.

So if we are talking about you know a matter of a few weeks? Chances are that the cancer had already been there and there hasn’t been much of a difference in terms of spread to the lymph nodes. So I do have to speak to her and get a better idea of when did she first have them? When did she first speak to these specialists? And you know how long it had been – what her symptoms were? So I will need to speak to her and get a bit more details.

DK      All right that’s in the homework file as well. David stay on the line – we’ll add that to…….

JM      More homework……

DK      More homework. Sarah – if you can just do this very quickly – we’ll squeeze you in. What’s your question?

Caller 5 – Sarah

Sarah  Hi – I’m just curious about medical negligence – so when a child is born – what I’m referring to is how a child is born and also second of all the parents not being notified of the issues – and now the child has – it’s for my son – he’s 2 ½ – he’s under NDIS funding and they actually suggested I grab my medical records for when my son was born – I was actually not awake when my son was born via C-section.

DK      Oh – Sarah this sounds like another complicated case which I don’t think we will have time to delve into – can we get you to stay on hold Sarah and we’ll put you in contact with Joelle also. Because I think that’s another one that we could explore even further.

JM      Yes.

DK      All right – Joelle – thank you so much we are out of time – but as always – a complex issue but good to get you to shed some light on it for us today.

JM      Always a pleasure Deb.

DK      Joelle Matar there from Turner Freeman Lawyers – they look at all range of legal issues, compensation negligence law, asbestos litigation as well. turnerfreeman.com.au – you can call 13 43 63 and our $100 Westfield voucher – we’ll give that today to Peter who called in from Coogee.