Sally Gleeson providing Q & A on the 2GB Chris Smith Afternoon Show discussing medical negligence law– 4 December 2018
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
CS –Chris Smith /SG – Sally Gleeson /C1,2,3, etc – Callers
CS Well this is big news – big news – you might remember back in September last year we spoke about a very important class action that was being launched by the Turner Freeman group over medical negligence and it involved Sally Gleeson – she was telling us about this in the studio and a class action against Australia’s largest cosmetic surgery provider – the Cosmetic Institute. Well after attempts by the Cosmetic Institute to prevent the case from proceeding, the Supreme Court has today handed down Judgment allowing the class action to continue and this is a major victory – a major step – now today’s also the last medical negligence segment of the year in our Turner Freeman series – so I thought it would be a great opportunity to open the lines to you so you can ask any questions that you’ve been sitting on, on this subject – 131 873 is the telephone number – I’ve also got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away as well. And as you may know Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law, Wills and Estates and property law. Sally Gleeson is back with us – a Partner in the Turner Freeman Sydney office – specialising in medical negligence litigation. Well congratulations and what the Supreme Court has decided today.
SG Thank you Chris
CS Big breakthrough. And in terms of firsts – it is and correct if I” m wrong – the first class action of its kind in this country?
SG It is. Yes it is.
CS It involves at this stage how many women – how many women have contacted Turner Freeman?
SG The number has increased and the numbers are growing almost on a weekly basis – but so far we are in the 300s.
SG And we expect the numbers to continue to grow.
CS Now this emanated from one particular highly publicised case, in particular. Just remind us of what happened.
SG It all came to light a few years back in 2015 when a young lady underwent breast augmentation surgery at the Cosmetic Institute Clinic in Parramatta and she suffered a cardiac arrest and she is one of my clients and she’s in fact one of the plaintiffs in this class action – one of the leading plaintiffs and from that emanated a number of other complaints and from that so on and so forth and the numbers have grown and we’ve seen women complain about various things and we now know a lot more about the system of surgery adopted by the Cosmetic Institute and its affiliate companies and also it’s surgical director and…….
CS And so what – what are your main accusations against the Cosmetic Institute been over the last year and a half?
SG Well this is a class action about a system of breast augmentation surgery. It’s about a system and a model that we say was created and designed and implemented by the Cosmetic Institute which at the forefront of its objectives we say was profit rather than the welfare of its patients. So the class action is about a carefully crafted model……..
CS So these are much cheaper procedure were they?
SG Much cheaper procedures – procedures that are a third or a quarter of the normal price and these were procedures offered by the Cosmetic Institute through surgeons that they say were surgeons and of course we say were not – we say that the people – the doctors – the operators who performed these surgeries were not properly trained – were not properly registered in some cases and should not have been performing these surgeries.
CS What about the anaesthetists involved?
SG Anaesthetists were involved and surgeons were involved. They were delegates we say of the TCI companies. They were asked and expected to perform surgery in a particular kind of way using a particular model of surgery – particular system of surgery and not a general anaesthetic which is one of the flaws we say in the system – the type of anaesthetic used was a local anaesthetic – so imagine numbing the muscle and breast region using a local anaesthetic and sedation. And we say that that system put women at risk and Amy Rikhuss is the leading example of what happened when you put someone at risk potentially through the type of system that we say should not have gone ahead.
CS So when you say you’ve got almost 400 women involved in the class action, you could have 500 by the time this ends up going back into the Court room.
SG Absolutely. So this is a class action against group members who we say may fit within the criteria of the class action. There are certain criteria that women have to adhere to and that’s on our website and we’ve asked women to register – we’ve asked them to come forward – we are working collaboratively with some of the best experts in the field – one is Professor Anand Deva. I encourage women to approach Professor Anand Deva who has set up the first low cost breast clinic of its kind in Sydney where he’s offered as a measure of good faith and to help women who are financially restricted low cost surgery so that he can assist them with their treatment and possibly rectification of their injuries.
CS Okay you can contact Turner Freeman on 13 43 63 – 13 43 63 – the website – turnerfreeman.com.au. Let’s go to some callers before we talk further about this. Mark – Go right ahead.
Caller 1 – Mark
Mark Oh hi Sally – how are you?
SG Hi Mark.
Mark Look Sally, I’m just asking ………..
CS Oh Mark – we’re having real difficulty hearing you – are you covering the phone or are you hands free? Can you improve the reception for us? Let’s try again – Go ahead Mark.
Mark Is that better?
CS No – it sounds as if you’ve got your hand on where your voice should be spoken into.
Mark How’s that?
CS That’s better. Thank you.
Mark That’s good – I moved three steps to the right. Ah – Look what I wanted to ask Sally – and I don’t have any issues myself but, I’ve had colleagues in the past in workplaces – I guess the injuries you’re talking about are physical – but how do you get legal ramifications for people who may have suffered mental illness and it’s not treated properly in their workplaces or they’re not looked after and then they come here and say – this has happened to me – I guess you can prove a physical injury – but how do you prove a mental issue that may have come about through a workplace not …………. properly?
CS Good question
SG So absolutely Mark – physical injury is only one kind of injury – psychological injuries are never to be demeaned or not regarded as highly as a physical injury – I act for many people who have suffered a psychological injury and in the same way that you need to prove that someone suffered a physical injury equally physical and psychological injuries can be proven. There has to be a nexus – a causal link between whatever injury they have suffered and the result and psychological or psychiatric injury – Most people who suffer a psychiatric injury or psychological injury report it – they suffer – they see their GP or their psychiatrist or their psychologist or their counsellor – they report their symptoms – these symptoms are documented – they obtain treatment and they need help. So there’s a clear flow chart in terms of the treatment that they require and absolutely the Court’s acknowledge that someone can suffer a psychological injury so long as it’s caused by an unreasonable or inappropriate system – then there’s always a case to be met.
Mark Okay – thank you for that.
CS All right Mark – thank you very much for your call.
SG No problem
CS 131 873 is the telephone number. Maybe women who’ve been through breast augmentation surgery who have doubts about what has resulted from that surgery may have question for Sally. 131 873. Are all the women involved in this class action alleging that they have had an abnormal or a dysfunctional result from the surgery with the Cosmetic Institute?
SG Beyond abnormal or dysfunctional.
CS Like what for example?
SG Well – we have had women who – putting aside the women that have had seizures and cardiac arrests and lung punctures because of the method of anaesthesia – we’ve had women who have had their pockets incorrectly dissected – placement of the implant in the wrong pocket- so we have had women who have suffered from mobile implants that move around their chest – it’s impinged nerves – we’ve had women who have had ruptures of the breast implant – women who have suffered haemorrhages – women who are permanently unable to rectify the appearance of their breasts even through staged surgery – because of the damage that’s been caused – I’ve had women – very put simply – puts very simply – who have had their nipples fall off because of the extent of the haemorrhage – the extent of the infection.
SG And the – and it’s transferred into sepsis. So these are very very serious cases. There seems to be a perception that breast augmentation surgery by virtue of its aims and intentions carries with it a smaller degree of significance – the opposite is in fact true Chris. If you perform breast augmentation surgery, you need to perform competently. You need to be a doctor who has undergone thorough training and basic sciences in you know cardiopulmonary resuscitation and support and intimate knowledge of how to obtain a proper history – knowledge of how to adequately and competently examine the breast area – the chest wall and al the basic areas of the chest. So it is very serious surgery. It’s very complex surgery – it is not to be taken lightly and it must be performed by someone who knows how to do it.
CS Once again – just repeating for those that haven’t caught up with this. After attempts by the Cosmetic Institute to prevent the case from proceeding, the Supreme Court has today handed down Judgment allowing the class action to continue. We’ll come back and take more of your calls right after the break.
CS Yeah – had an email come in from a listener who wanted to know whether this mob – the Cosmetic Institute was still operating at all?
SG They are not operating – none of them are – obviously there’s……
CS How many did they have?
SG As in how many companies?
SG We are suing 5 defendants. One of them is the surgical director and 4 companies. One is the head company and the others are the affiliates. They had businesses at Southport – Parramatta and Bondi. And all those businesses have entered external administration – liquidators have been appointed – but they are all insured as far as we know.
CS Okay – so it’s a battle between Turner Freeman – those who are part of the class action against the insurers.
SG Well the insurers and the companies themselves – the issue is between them.
CS Right okay. And what’s the next step?
SG So the next step is the matter will be case managed by the Judge – it will proceed all systems go next year. There will be a lot of work that we need to do – possibly a long road ahead of us – we’re committed to seeking justice for all my clients.
CS I can only imagine the emotional strain this has had on some of the women.
SG Absolutely. Psychologically it has had a huge strain – you can only imagine going in to obtain breast augmentation to feel better about yourself psychologically and coming out looking a lot worse and some of them having devastating results…………. psychologically…….
CS They must have had a really convincing …………….. For people to walk in there and commit to them.
SG Absolutely. One of the questions people ask all the time is – well you know it was low cost surgery absolutely – but it was low cost surgery that was represented to be at high quality. So, one is expected to believe and trust and that’s what the whole case is about.
CS Okay – I congratulate you once again – I congratulate Turner Freeman Lawyers and Sally in particular. Thank you for the year by the way …….
SG Thanks Chris
CS And have a fantastic Christmas.
SG To you too – see you next year.
CS Good stuff. Sally Gleeson – Partner in the Turner Freeman Sydney office. That number for Turner Freeman 13 43 63.