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Joelle Matar featured on 2GB discussing medical negligence claims – 2 February 2021

Joelle Matar providing Q & A on the 2GB Deborah Knight Afternoon Show discussing Medical Negligence - 2 February 2021


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


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Read the transcript below:

DK      And it’s back for 2021! Free legal advice. Legal matters. We do it every week with Turner Freeman Lawyers, and today its all about medical negligence. So if you’ve got a question, 131 873 is the number to call. Medical negligence, it’s a topic that I know a lot of you have called in the past about, it can be very traumatic when you have a loved one suffer negligence in either a hospital or an aged care setting, or a surgery that goes wrong, and it can be a really confusing time to know where to go to get help, or what you might be entitled to. So to answer your calls, Joelle Matar, a medical negligence specialist at Turner Freeman Lawyers is on the line for us now. If you’ve got a question, call in. 131 873. I’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away for the best call. Joelle’s with us, hi Joelle thanks for joining us for the first legal matters segment for the year! Great to have you with us.

JM      Hi Deb, great to speak to you today.

DK      So give us that brief run-down first up, because many people wonder with medical negligence what it actually covers.

JM      Sure, sure. Look, no two cases are the same. It could be anything from a delayed diagnosis of a condition to a misdiagnosis of a condition.  It is something that could happen at a local hospital, be it an ANE, or it could be something that arises through consultations with a GP. As you said, it is something that is quite traumatic. It is overwhelming and it’s not a very pleasant time for the person that’s been injured or even their family, so it does effect everybody.

DK      In terms of the compensation that is potentially available to you, what is it? Is there a limit to the financial compensation that you can obtain?

JM      Yea, there are caps that are in place, and there are also certain thresholds that must be met in order for some awards of compensation to be awarded, such as pain and suffering. But each case is different and it is assessed on an individual basis, depending on the compensable injury that the person has suffered.

DK      And it can also involve incorrect medications being prescribed too, can’t it?

JM      Yes absolutely it could be incorrect medication. It could be a combination of medications that just don’t go well together or it could be a medication that contra-indicated if you look at the person’s comorbidities for example, if you’re on Warfarin, there are certain medications that don’t really go well with Warfarin, so the doctor that’s prescribing the medication has to really take that adequate history, so that they know what goes with Warfarin and what doesn’t.

DK      Yea. And I know the incidents of these too, there are protections in place aren’t there, for medical professionals to indemnify them against certain things but you never know until you investigate.

JM      That’s right. That’s absolutely right. Look, all doctors are supposed to have an indemnity insurance and this is something that has been in place for many years, but at the end of the day, the way that it works is we do have an investigation, we look at things before we go and sue a doctor, so it’s not something as simple as making a phone call and then running down to the Supreme Court and filing a claim. So we have to investigate the claim, we require expert evidence, we have to be satisfied that the claim has reasonable prospects of success. At the end of the day, you don’t want to waste your client’s time and you don’t want to waste the court’s time, or your own time.

DK      Yea and you’ve got a lot of experience and success in this field. If you’ve got a question for Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers, 131 873 is the number. Glen has a query for us today, hi Glen.

C1       Hi Deb, how are you?

DK      Very well thanks, what’s happened to you?

C1       Well nothing’s happened to me, but my son a few months back was playing around in the garden and there was one of those really spiky, woody palm type things and he got one of the spikes which is about an inch and half long which slid right above his knuckle, right up under his skin. It caused him a bit of pain for quite some time. He had to have some time off work and antibiotics. He went to the hospital and got it scanned, they did an ultrasound to locate this thing, then he went into the public system at Westmead and he had the surgery, and they said they couldn’t find anything, and then he subsequently had a few more cases of antibiotics and a lot more pain for the next month or six weeks or something, and then one day while he was driving his truck a little bit of it popped out of his knuckle and he got a pair of tweezers out of the first aid kit in the truck, and he pulled it out and there was an inch and a half splinter came out, it just naturally just dispersed it.

DK      So he got it out himself after being told that they had removed it? I wonder if there’s any recourse here, Joelle.

JM      Wow. Well it depends. When he says that he went into the hospital and they looked at it, did he have just a wash out in the emergency department, or did he have a surgical exploration where they open the wound, do an irrigation of the wound and really take a look for foreign bodies.

C1       He had a surgical operation.

DK      Wow. So he went that far with it?

C1       I’m fairly certain he went under general as well.

JM      Oh wow, and they still didn’t pick up on it? That’s really interesting. Glen, I think that you and I need to have a chat, but I don’t think this is the right place to do it because I think we’ll be holding up other callers. But I’m more than happy to speak to you off air.

DK      Alright Glen, stay on the line, we’ll get your details, it sounds like you could have some recourse there, or your son could at least.  John, what was your question for Joelle today?

C2       I recently got a pacemaker swapped out and woke up the next day after the surgery with a very minor clicking in my left shoulder. Over the last four months it’s degenerated that badly now as I’m sitting here my left hand is pins and needles and my left forearm is numb. I’m seeing a surgeon next week. The surgeon who did the pace maker refit, is he responsible for this injury, and would he be liable?

JM      Well it really depends because you have experienced these symptoms right after replacing your pacemaker, but you know, we really don’t know the underlying cause of those symptoms. So, it really depends on what the doctor you are going to see says about your symptoms and what’s causing them. Are they actually coming from the pacemaker or are they coming from something different? Do you know what I mean? You really have to make that connection, that relationship, I’d be interested to see what that surgeon says, then we can take it from there.

DK      Alright, you stay on the line too John because we might get your details across to Joelle to really follow that up with some further investigation.  And look, just on the topic of time limits as well, what is the time limit for medical negligence claims?

JM      OK, so it really depends on when the alleged negligence occurred. So when the wrongful act giving rise to the injury actually happened. So depending on the year there are different time limits that apply. So at the moment, for things that have occurred since 2002, the period would be three years, but it’s three years from when you realise you are injured and it’s the fault of the defendant and its worth suing over. So I tend to be quite conservative and err on the side of caution, so I like to always commence proceedings within that first three year period, if possible.  Sometimes, you can’t. There are times where the alleged negligence takes place, but the patient doesn’t really know for four years afterwards, and this is where the discoverability provisions are really helpful to a Plaintiff.

DK      Yea, that’s great advice.

JM      It’s not set in stone.

DK      Yea, well that’s it. As you said, it’s not set in stone but its around that three year mark. Joelle, thank you so much we are out of time, I think we’ll give Glen our $100 Westfield voucher today with the story of his son’s splinter, goodness me, let’s hope he has some follow up with you on that, but that you so much for joining us, we’ll talk again next week.

JM      Pleasure, thanks Deb.

DK      Turner Freeman Lawyers, they’ve got a range of specialised legal services, including compensation and negligence law, they also look at asbestos, litigation, superannuation and disability claims, employment law, wills and estates and property law and all those topics we do cover as part of our Tuesday legal matters segment. If you want to get in touch with them, Turner Freeman, visit or give them a call today, 13 43 63.


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