Joelle Matar featured on 2GB discussing medical negligence claims – 23 March 2021
Joelle Matar providing Q & A on the 2GB Deborah Knight Afternoon Show discussing Medical Negligence - 23 March 2021
DK – Deborah Knight / JM – Joelle Matar – C1,2,3, etc – Callers
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Read the transcript below:
DK And this time every week legal matters, here on afternoons, some free legal advice for your Tuesday, give us a call 131 873, today we’re looking at medical negligence, so you might have had an issue with treatment at a hospital or a procedure didn’t quite work out the way it should have. Joelle Matar is a specialist at Turner Freeman Lawyers and if you have a question now is the time to call, 131 873, as always we’ve got our $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the caller who asks the best question, so now’s your chance, 131 873. Joelle, thanks so much for joining us.
JM Thanks so much, Deb, lovely to speak to you.
DK Now what I want to ask you first up, this news I alluded to yesterday out of Queensland, this serious issues with ambulance ramping at hospitals and it’s an issue that is causing real concern and real complaint understandably, but how often does poor staffing at places like hospitals or emergency services, how often does that lead to medical negligence claims.
JM Yeah, look unfortunately it is a real issue and it is something that we see quite commonly, and I know that there’s this push to get more paramedics on board, which is helpful but it doesn’t really address the underlying issue, the root cause of the issue which is as you said, is the understaffing and the under resourcing at these hospitals, it happens all the time. Look, yes people are over worked, because there aren’t enough staff, be it nurses, be it senior doctors or be it even registrars, and what you see is these people working double shifts and they are exhausted, and when you are tired, we all make mistakes, so the more tired they are, the more mistakes that are made, and you know this ramping of patients is an issue, and yes not every single person that presents to the emergency department presents with you know a life threatening condition or illness, but some of them do, and if you are waiting on an ambulance stretcher for thirty minutes when you actually could have a life threatening condition or a time sensitive condition, it could mean the difference between you getting treated in a timely manner and making a fantastic recovery or it could be that you don’t get that treatment that you need in time and you are then left with an ongoing disability.
DK So it could well lead to a claim.
JM Look it could, and we’ve seen this issue unfortunately quite a fair bit over the last 18 months coming out of Blacktown Hospital, so you probably would have seen it on the news, read about it in the papers so over the last 18 months or so, they’ve had six newborn deaths, the most recent child that passed away was a boy that passed away very shortly after his birth and that only happened a couple of weeks ago and this is on the background of the staff at the maternity unit at Blacktown Hospital actually threatening to walk out only a few months ago because of this issue where there’s not enough staff and they don’t have enough resources. I mean at the end of the day if you’ve got a woman in labour and the child is distressed and you have to perform a caesarean section to be able to deliver this child, but you don’t have an operating theatre available, I mean it’s just a tragic string of events, particularly with these staff who are just helpless. I mean they try instrumental deliveries but at the end of the day you can’t perform a caesarean section if you don’t have an operating theatre.
DK Yeah, it’s a big concern.
JM It is a big concern, it’s a big enquiry into all of those circumstances surrounding the death of those children. I mean the one that passed away a couple of weeks ago, I think it’s a little bit too early for us to really find out what happened there, and if the death was avoidable, I think there’s a root cause analysis at the moment looking into what actually happened and how his death came about but it’s quite tragic for everybody involved.
DK Absolutely, let’s hear from you 131 873 is the open line number if you’ve got a question for Joelle Matar from Turner Freeman Lawyers. Renee what did you want to know today?
Caller No: 1 Renee
C1 Hello, yes ladies, hope you’re having a nice dry afternoon, what I’m calling in regards to is, it was actually a car accident 35 years ago but it’s only about the last 5 or 6 years we discovered there’s an earring still inside my ear, in my ear lobe, cause the seat belt sliced my ear and when the car rolled, and it must have been a mess, they’ve sewn it up and for years I’ve put up with face pain and we put it all down to the jaw but in one of those scans we discovered it looks like it’s in my neck but it’s in my ear lobe and it’s the stainless steel post off the back of an earring.
DK Goodness me.
C1 I mean I wake up some days i can’t feel my face, can’t touch my hair but what I was more interested in is whether I would have a claim just to simply cover the cost to have it removed. I just don’t know whether it’s too late….
DK Let’s see if Joelle has some advice for you.
JM You might, it just depends on how long you’ve had to put up with this, now I know you said to me that the accident happened many, many years ago but at the end of the day if you’ve been having a lot of symptoms, a lot of issues, you know maybe pain, you’ve mentioned pain in your face, all these things, I mean yes, maybe you could have a claim it’s not just about removing the stud from the ear and the cost of that procedure. I mean you’d find Medicare would probably be able to cover those costs but it’s also about the pain and suffering that you had to go through for the last gosh many years.
DK Well the accident 35 years ago, what is the time limit though, I mean there is a time limit on claims, would that be superseded by the fact that this is an ongoing problem, how does that work?
JM Well, I mean it really depends on when she presented with symptoms, when she had the investigations and whether somebody should have picked up on that, so it’s not just about when it had been left in place you know ages ago, it’s about you know, when did she go to a doctor and say hey I’ve got all these problems, they’ve investigated or should have investigated it and then they could have been able to pick up the problem earlier, but there is a limitation period that applies and depending on what year it is Deb, it changes, but this is something that happened you know prior to 2002 and it would be a 30 year, it’s the long stop bar of 30 years, so it does sound as though it’s out of time but I’m more than happy to speak to her and see whether we can do something.
DK Alright stay on the line for us Renee and we’ll follow up and see if you’ve got some sort of recourse or the ability to make a claim, so we’ll get your details Renee and pass them on to Joelle. Lucia has a question for us today, hi Lucia.
Caller No: 2 Lucia
C2 Hi there, how are you Deb?
DK Well, thank you.
C2 My husband was taken by ambulance as an emergency last November to hospital for suspected stroke, TIA, it happened four times last year, transient ischemic attack, he had left sided weakness and they said no sign of stroke, possible seizure, so he was given epilim for two days which he reacted to very badly, I hadn’t see him one day and the next day I went in he looked, he was shaking and trembling uncontrollably and wasn’t barley conscious, he couldn’t function brain wise, it was the most strange and awful thing, they took him off it straight away, and to this day he hasn’t stopped having these shakes every now and then, he does have other conditions which are neurological but until that epilim, he did not have any type of bodily shaking, and he still presents with weakness but I’d read, I’ve been reading a lot and sort of concerned apparently there is a condition called drug induced Parkinson’s.
DK Oh dear, well that sounds like it could be something to investigate, I’ll see if Joelle has some further information for you and whether that could be the basis for a claim, Joelle?
JM Yeah, I mean, look it’s possible that it is drug induced, but I think it’s difficult to say at this stage unless he’s had the investigations and unless the diagnosis is made because it’s really difficult to successfully argue that a condition was avoidable if something else had been done or something was done differently when we don’t really know what that condition is, so in the absence of investigations and a diagnosis, we really can’t, we can’t make that allegation, it will be difficult to be able to prove that he does have drug induced shaking or you know whatever the condition is which is why it makes it so difficult because you don’t really know what that condition is, but I’m more than happy to have a chat to her and get some more information because I’m sure there’s probably lots and lots more information that she can give and be able to have a chat and see how that goes.
DK Our thoughts are with your husband too, Lucia, it sounds like quite an ordeal that he went through and does continue to go through, so stay on the line and we’ll pass your information onto Joelle. Have there been cases where someone has been prescribed incorrect medication where it has led to claim?
JM Yeah, there has , look there are medications out there that you really have to get the dosage right and this is why there are recommended dosages and there is a certain level or amount that should not be exceeded per day, and these sorts of medications are quite common, I mean we all know cholesterol medication statins, you know they could, if they are given over a long period of time and you are not given the correct dosage, it could actually cause a lot of problems, things from muscle weakness, muscle wasting, organ damage, so this is why they’re regulated and there are doses that should not be exceeded. Another one is prognozom, again it’s the type of medication that is given but it needs to be monitored and you need to be given just enough for it to work, not too much and also it has to be weaned fairly slowly and gradually to make sure that the body isn’t shocked from the lack of the medication.
DK Yeah and it’s such a complex field and it is something that you do look at very closely. Joelle we are out of time unfortunately but thank you so much for joining us.
JM Absolutely, pleasure.
DK Joelle Mater there from Turner Freeman Lawyers, they provide a range of specialised legal services, compensation, negligence law, asbestos litigation, wills and estate and property law and if you want to get in touch with them the number 13 43 63 is the best way to remember it, 13 43 63 or search turnerfreeman.com.au and our $100 Westfield voucher, we’ll send that out to Renee and we’ll talk legal matters again same time next week.