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Joelle Matar discussing medical negligence matters on 2GB

Joelle Matar providing Q & A on the 2GB Deborah Knight Afternoon Show discussing Medical Negligence - 2 June 2020

Tuesday 2 June 2020 

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

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DK      OK, we do it every week, legal matters, we’ve got our $100 Westfield voucher to give away for the best call. We’re looking today at things like a dodgy operation, maybe something went wrong while you were in hospital, maybe you were in pain more than you were when you came out of hospital, or you feel the doctors actually should have taken better care of you. Medical negligence is our topic for Turner Freeman Lawyers.  Joelle Matar is a medical negligence lawyer at their Sydney office, and she is on line for us now. Joelle, great to talk to you, thanks for joining us.

JM      Thank you for having me Deb.

DK      Now, a lot of injuries, they’re not straight forward, they do require a lot of medical specialists, often from various fields, and it can sometimes be difficult to nail down whether or not you are eligible for some sort of compensation. Give us an idea of some of the cases you’re looking at.

JM      Yea. Look, something that we come across quite frequently, unfortunately, is the consequences of, almost an inadequate handing over of care.  So, this is something that is seen regularly where you have a patient that presents to an emergency department, but their care is quite complex, and it might require various specialties and various departments, and what you end up seeing is, sadly to say, someone who falls through the cracks. So, you might end up having one doctor requesting some investigations and then there is no follow through with those investigations.

DK      So what are some examples that you’ve seen?

JM      Yea, so one person went in with a headache, that person ended up having a CT scan of the brain because they wanted to exclude pathology of the brain that could be causing the headache. That person then had their symptoms improve after they were given pain medication and because their symptoms improved, they were then sent home and told to present to their GP. What had happened was, although the CT scan had been performed, no one had actually reported on the findings of that CT scan, and whilst this patient had become asymptomatic, and was sent home, no one actually went back to see what the CT scan of the brain actually revealed. Days and days later, this person obviously comes back to hospital and were much, much worse, except this time they are injured because it was Meningitis that could have been picked up days earlier and treated days earlier, and it is now a little bit out of control, so to say.

DK      And then they’re eligible for compensation, potentially, through legal recourse.

JM      Potentially yea. It’s a little bit more complex than that, but yes, it is something that we definitely would look into for that particular patient to see whether the injury was avoidable and whether there is something we could do for them.

DK      Alright, you might have a question, give us a call now, 131873, it’s free legal advice from Turner Freeman Lawyers, they join us this time every Tuesday to help you out with legal matters, if you’ve got a question to do with medical negligence, give me a call now on 131873, Joelle Mater is with us, a specialist in this field from Turner Freeman Lawyers. In terms of the number of victims of this, are we seeing an increase, or is it simply that people are more aware of their rights and wanting to ensure that they can get help?

JM      Yea, I think people are more aware, because at the moment there is a lot in the media, social media is obviously playing a huge role in increasing awareness and so yea, people are more aware of their rights and there are lots of legal advices now available to people and it’s free of charge, so by exploring your options, you have nothing to lose and potentially you have a lot to gain. And sometimes, it’s not even about getting compensation, sometimes it’s about knowing what you could do, knowing who to approach. For example, if something had gone wrong, a lot of people want that closure, they want to be able to speak to somebody, you know, at the hospital or the specialist, and ask those questions and find out why did it happen, how did it happen, and is it something that could be improved so that it doesn’t happen to another patient.

DK      And, is there a time limit, Joelle, that people should be aware of if they’ve had an operation and they think they could look into it, is there a time they have to ensure they take action?

JM      Yes there is. So it’s three years, being the earliest from the date that the alleged negligence had occurred. Having said that, it’s three years from when you realise you’re injured, that it’s the fault of the defendant and that it’s worth suing over. So these are what we call the discoverability criteria. So being conservative, we often err on the side of caution and would like to commence proceedings within the first of the three years, but as I said, it is subject to the discoverability of the injury.

DK      Alright, we might take a quick break, 131873, we’re speaking with Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers on medical negligence. If you’ve got a question, give us a call 131873.

DK      Deborah Knight here with you on afternoons, we’re speaking with Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers and taking your calls to do with medical negligence. Shane is on the line for us, hi Shane.

C1       Oh hi.

DK      What’s your question?

C1       Yea, my question was I had an operation three years ago for a blown out disc in my neck, and the surgeon put a plate in the front of my neck, and I found out two months after the operation that the plate he had put in had expired, he said it had gone past its expiration date when he put it in, and I had to go for scans and to see if there was any infection and stuff like that. I just wanted to know is there anything I can do about that, because it’s scared the hell out of me.

DK      Alright, we’ll put it to Joelle, our lawyer, is there any recourse for Shane, Joelle?

JM      Look, there might be, it just depends on the injury that’s been caused. I’m not sure if Shane you’ve actually suffered an injury as a result of all of that, but it’s defenatly something we could look into for you. So for me to be able to give him advice, I’m going to need to look at his records, and there are lots of steps along the way before we get to a point of determining whether there are reasonable prospects of success. So it is definitely something  I would be more than happy to speak to you about Shane.

DK      Alright Shane, we’ll put you through to our producers and get you in touch and see if we can help you out further.  Ron, what was your question for Joelle?

C2       My wife had a, well, we went to the public hospital first, we were transferred to North Side Hospital, she had an x-ray done there, and they said it was a baker cyst and we suffered through it for ages then went back again to the Prince Charles and they just kept saying you know, it’s been x-rayed it’s only a bakers cyst and all this, and it just went on and on and on and in the end I took her to a knee specialist and as soon as he looked at the x-rays, he said there’s a fracture there.

DK      What could Ron do here Joelle?

JM      Well I’m sorry to hear about all of that, it sounds like an ordeal. Look again, this is something we could probably help you with. So we would have to look at the x-rays and see whether the x-ray had shown the fracture all along or whether it was something that was on the x-ray film but hadn’t been reported. So again, there are lots of things we have to look into, and this is probably something I can probably help you with, Ron.

DK      Alright, we’ll put you through and put you in touch as well, good on you Ron, thank you.  John, what was your question?

C3       Yes hi, I have a question for Joelle regarding infection following surgery. A couple of years ago now I had a knee replacement and it was going well, I was at the point of rehab where even the surgeon commented, “Gee I don’t even know if I operated on you, the leg is going that well!”  Now they wanted to put me in hydrotherapy a couple of days before I left the hospital, but the wound hadn’t healed properly and wasn’t closed. I sort of thought, oh well you know what you’re doing, so I had the hydrotherapy and the day before I was discharged I started to feel a little bit unwell. Consequently following that, I got Staff infection and I went back for a further four operations on the same leg, and it’s basically useless to me now. I’ve got some photographs to support that. You can quite clearly see the wound was open and wet and I didn’t want to go in the hydrotherapy pool, but it wasn’t actually the operation, and after replacing the hardware and the nylon components I had another four operations and cleared my leg out, and it’s really stuffed my life up basically.

JM      Right, I’m sorry to hear that. Obviously there are two aspects to this. The first is whether the injury itself was avoidable, and the second is the management of the infection after it had developed. Look, infection cases are quite difficult, they’re quite complex and if you were to look at infection, it’s probably commonly known that infection is an inherent risk of most, if not all, procedures, particularly orthopaedic procedures.  But again, this is something I’d be happy to speak to you about off air and we can have a discussion about who treated you and for how long and I’d be happy to speak to you about your options.

DK      Alright, we’ll follow that up. Nathan, what was your question?

C4       Yea, how’re you going?

DK      Yea good.

C4       Just a question, I went to the hospital probably just before Christmas, I had to ring an ambulance as I felt off in my stomach.  What had happened was that it was an ulcer inside my stomach that had burst. I went to one hospital and they told me that I had torn my stomach, so my mother and my wife being who they are took me to another hospital and they actually turned around and said I was very lucky that I actually turned up at the  hospital.

DK      Oh, would Nathan have any legal recourse there, Joelle.

JM      Well, it depends. It really depends. I mean, this is what I had been speaking about earlier Deb, in that a lot of people tend to present with symptoms, their symptoms are managed and they are told to go home and present to your GP, meanwhile there’s something there, an underlying issue that is causing those symptoms that still needs to be treated. At the end of the day, you can’t sue for an injury that is yet to occur, so I really don’t know whether he has actually suffered an injury as a result of all of that, this is something I would need to speak to him at length about and again get a more comprehensive summary of the nature of the treatment and then I’d be happy to give him some advice.

DK      Alright Nathan we’ll put you back through to our producers, thank you. We are out of time Joelle, I think we’ll give John in Botany our $100 Westfield voucher today, and if you do want to get in contact with Turner Freeman, visit turnerfreeman.com.au or you can call 13 43 63. Joelle, thanks so much for your time.

JM      Thanks again Deb.

DK      Joelle Matar there from Turner Freeman Lawyers.