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Medical Negligence Claims with Sally Gleeson on 2GB

Legal matters with Turner Freeman Medical Negligence Claims with Sally Gleeson – 28 March 2017

Tuesday, March 28th 2017 


CS – Chris Smith/SG – Sally Gleeson /C1,2,3, etc – Callers 


Announcer     And now, Legal Matters with Turner Freeman Lawyers: great people; great results; great value.

CS       I’ll be getting straight up into that cyclone area in just a short moment. Person that was battering down the hatches a little earlier today I’m keen to find out how they’re faired as this cyclone has crossed. We will cross to Bowen in just a short moment but we’re talking medical law, if you want a question answered and it relates to anything you are in or a predicament that your family might be in or your friend and it’s involved in medical law, we’ve got the expert with us this afternoon. Sally Gleeson is a partner in the Turner Freeman Sydney Office and specialises in medical negligence litigation. If you’ve got a question 131 873 but the earlier the better. I’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away so we’ll give that away to one of our callers in the next 15 minutes. Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services as you may know compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law Wills and estate and property law as well. Offices in New South Wales: Sydney, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Newcastle and Wollongong and they’ve also got offices in Queensland as well. Sally Gleeson welcome to the program once again.

SG      Thanks Chris.

CS       Good to have you in here. Now there has been a big case in New South Wales develop over the last 48 hours and it is about this patient who had tuberculosis but it went undiagnosed. Now we’re talking about the possibility of ten others having tuberculosis because of the people this person came in contact with. We’re reading today that there will be no probe or investigation into how the GP missed it. What do you do if you’re one of the patience and you think to yourself, hang on a minute there’s got to be negligence involved in this?

SG      Well regardless of what the government decides to do, every patient needs to make a formal complaint if they suspect that a diagnosis has been missed or they’ve been mistreated in any way-

CS       Who to?

SG      well the first step is to make a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission and that organisation takes the matter on, investigates the matter and if they believe the matter should be investigated further, they refer it to the medical council and the medical council can take action.

CS       You can take the investigation into your own hands too right?

SG      Oh absolutely, regardless of any legal case, I advise all my clients to do that separately. What happens there has no impact on the case and vice versa but in terms of getting answers that are non legal, getting answers where actions are taken and the particular medical practitioner understands what happened and ensures that it doesn’t happen again and ensures that there is a message is sent across so that things can’t just happen, you know the medical council takes matters on board very, very seriously, complaints are made, suspensions, reprimands, all sorts of things can happen.

CS       And so those who were subsequently infected as a result of the patient being misdiagnosed could also have a case.

SG      Absolutely. This is all about early diagnosis and early diagnoses usually cures and in circumstances where an early diagnosis hasn’t been made, as we’ve seen, people can die. So patients who are indirectly infected by virtue of someone else who has been infected and had that person been treated properly then the infection wouldn’t have spread, they have a cause of action.

CS       Very true. Michael you have a question for Sally this afternoon, go right ahead.

C1       Yes, hi Sally, my sister in law actually went to hospital and this is a number of years ago so I suppose it’s a twofold question, so she went to hospital and said she had terrible abdominal pain and suggested it was appendicitis, the doctor said no it wasn’t and sent her away, subsequently the appendix had burst and she lost her ovary, which then created great problems in trying to fall pregnant now this is about 12 years ago so I guess my initial question is there a time limit on trying to litigate and then would she have a case?

SG      Yeah, there is a time limit, it depends very much on whether it was known then that the doctor made a mistake in your sister in laws mind and objectively. So it’s three years from when the cause of action is discoverable and there is a three tier test, when she ought to have known and when a reasonable person ought to have known so there is an issue there. Any reason why your sister in law didn’t take any action then?

C1       I think she was too distressed.

SG      Sure

C1       yeah

SG      So there is an issue there and there are issues about whether the records are still there, hospitals do not, any medical practitioner does not have to retain records beyond seven years so if the records aren’t there so you know that is a huge problem. That’s why I say if you suspect say something to someone because time is of the essence. Whether your sister is entitled to a case very much depends on whether the records are there and whether she’s suffered, has she later on had children?

C1       She had one but could only have it through IVF.

SG      Sure. So it depends very much on what her loss is, what it’s done to her life, whether she’s got any abdominal scarring, whether she’s got adhesions, whether as you say it’s affected her fertility, all these things have to be canvassed by looking at the records and obviously speaking to her.

CS       And is there a time expiry date here?

SG      There is no expiry but you have to start the action in court within that discoverable period so no more than after three years after you discover a course of action, once you kick it off you’ve got however long you need to bring the action.

CS       Was that helpful Michael?

C1       Yes, it was thank you.

CS       Okay.

SG      Thank you Michael.

CS       No problem Michael. Deslie go right ahead, Sally is listening.

C2       Yeah, hi, I had my gallbladder taken out, I think it’s about five years ago now. When I had it out, I thought it was going to be keyhole surgery but obviously they couldn’t do a keyhole so when they’ve done it, I’ve been opened right up and now in the last twelve months I’ve had problems with my stomach and they’ve found that I’ve had a stone stuck in my bile duct and I’ve got stones wedged in my liver.

SG       Okay now, sometimes doctors need to do things to fix the problem and save your life so they go in and because the problem is bigger than they once envisaged then they have to conduct treatment that is more invasive to fix the problem and that’s obviously what happened in your case whether it was warranted or not I can’t say without looking at the records but what you’re suffering from now, the problems with your stomach, and the bile duct and the stone wedged in your liver, we have to show that’s connected to the actual surgery and the surgery being more invasive and that depends very much on as I say always on what you say, what’s happened to you and what the conical records indicate about the reason for the surgery. So it’s got to be investigated Deslie, depends very much on your circumstances.

C2       Yep.

SG      I’m very happy to talk to you, I’m very happy to look at your records and I’m very happy to speak to you about your problems.

CS       But isn’t there a problem in terms of the time period because this is five years ago? This has only just occurred to you that the stones that have been identified have only been identified recently, Deslie?

C2       Yes, that’s right.

CS       Right, okay.

SG      So if the problem has been identified recently, there is nothing to worry about because how would you have known you have suffered anything until then? So there is no issue there and it’s definitely worth investigating if you’ve got problems.

CS       Alright Deslie, stay on the line, we will get you Sally’s contact numbers maybe you would like to take it further, that’s entirely up to you. I want to move away from the tuberculosis case to another even more high profile case in the last month, there is the issue of the fraudulent doctor who operates in New South Wales for ten whole years under someone else’s name, no one suspects him, he’s allowed to continue to practice, like now that we have found him out, I’d hate to have been patient of his and relying on treatment that he told me I had to have.

SG      Yeah absolutely.

CS       Wow.

SG      Absolutely I mean it’s not something you could imagine would ever happen in reality but you know these things do happen and this doctor we’re hoping hasn’t caused anyone any further damage.

CS       Do we know at all whether a firm is creating or forming an investigation to try and work out whether there is a class action against him?

SG      Well there are stories lurking around but you know several patients approaching lawyers, I’ve certainly had some enquiries made to me and we’ve got to look at every matter on a case by case basis and you know it’s absolutely frightful that that happened.

CS       He’s not a doctor how many patients he sees on a day to day basis? He’s done that for ten years you wonder to yourself you know.

SG      Thousands and thousands.

CS       What medicine was I receiving? What sort of checkups and inspections was he making of women? It goes on and on and you’re thinking what a terrible period of time.

SG      Absolutely, issues about consent, battery, trespass, all those things.

CS       Will action against someone like that or something like New South Wales health for instance?

SG      How was he registered? What name was he using? Were the checks that were done to ensure he could be registered done properly? You know what sorts of investigations were made?

CS       And when he was employed by these various health agencies or surgeries, where’s the documentation?

SG      Absolutely, were they falsified? Were they looked at? Were they checked thoroughly? Questions need to be asked about all those things

CS       Yeah okay, Paul’s got a weird question, Paul, go right ahead.

C3       Yes, thanks very much. Sally, just over forty years ago while I was at work under workers compensation, I had the right side of my head smashed in, compressed fractured cheek bone, I lost part of my upper jaw and I’ve suffered for many years with having to wear false teeth because I’ve got no teeth left and I’m getting to a stage now, retired and I haven’t got the money to pay for it, so I just wondered after all that time, is there any chance that I could ask that insurance company to do with it or whatever.

SG      What happened to you? Did you say after forty years ago?

C3       Yes but I’ve suffered all my life.

SG      Okay sure but what happened at the time? Was there an investigation conducted?

C3       Well I can’t, what year it was maybe it was a king hit. While I was at work, for no reason what so ever, don’t know who it was, they caught the bloke and did whatever they had to do with the police.

CS       Let’s just cut this off because I’ve only got forty five seconds left. Do you know whether the insurance company actually exists anymore?

C3       It was called ‘Sun Insurance’.

SG      The problem is that this guy, taking from what you say, did something to you that was out of left field, he acted outside of what you know, he was a colleague of yours? He was a colleague of yours?

C3       No it was in an adventure park.

SG      Sure.

C3       And I was working at night and he must of got drunk. I don’t even know why or what.

CS       It’s going to be tough.

SG      Very tough against him and your employer obviously.

CS       Hey Paul, but I’ve got to give you the $100 Westfield Voucher because although it’s a long time ago and you’re still suffering, you deserve the $100 Westfield voucher alright.

C3       Oh fantastic.

CS       Stay on the line there, we’ll get it to you. That’s a long time ago, that’s about as long ago a case that has been raised on the radio that we’ve ever had. Sally, thank you very much for your time.

SG      Thanks Chris.

CS       Sally Gleeson, partner in the Turner Freeman Sydney office and we’ll have another segment this time next week.


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