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Sally Gleeson on 2GB discussing medical law

Sally Gleeson providing Q & A on medical issues

Tuesday, 2 August 2016 


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



CS       Yes last week we heard of the most heartbreaking stories due to hospital negligence, so our segment today with Turner Freeman’s Sally Gleeson is rather timely and in particular today we’ve had this interim report I’ve been focusing on which indicates that one staff member has been stood down and the contract with BOC has been severed.  So if you’ve got a question, maybe it’s not to do with the incident that has dominated the headlines this afternoon but maybe it’s got something to do with medical law, give us a call right now, 131 873. Thanks to Turner Freeman Lawyers and their Legal Matters Segment, we’ve got a $100 Westfield Voucher to give away as usual and Turner Freeman Lawyers, just to remind you, 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 and their New South Wales offices are in the City, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Newcastle and Wollongong. They have also got offices in Queensland, South Australia and WA. Sally Gleeson from Turner Freeman,  thank you very much for coming in.

SG      Thanks Chris.

CS       What could these family members who are now pouring over this interim report today and they are still grieving for the loss of their baby John. What can they expect in terms of compensation, now Gillian Skinner, the Minister said they will receive compensation, but under the law, they don’t have too much to rely on do they?

SG      Under the law they are restricted unfortunately and the baby’s rights are tragically upon his death is extinguished so the baby gets nothing under the current law. The family, the parents and any siblings, family members are entitled by virtue of any psychiatric illness that they’ve suffered because of their child’s death.

CS       Yeah

SG      And that’s a hard test at law. They are entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering for their needs in the future in terms of treatment and care, but that has to be by virtue of any psychological, psychiatric illness that they have suffered because of their child’s death. So it can’t just be the mourning or the grieving process, it has to be a process beyond that.

CS       So their sadness doesn’t qualify them for any compensation?

SG      The pain and suffering by virtue of their child’s death and that sadness and emotional grief and the devastation of that doesn’t qualify them for any pain and suffering.

CS       Despite the fact that the system has killed their baby?

SG      Despite the negligence.

CS       Just extraordinary. However, the other family who we haven’t heard from who have this critically ill and brain damaged baby, they are liable for something are they?

SG      The baby is liable and that’s a totally different set of circumstances, the baby is alive, albeit very unwell and suffering from a catastrophic brain injury. The baby has significant rights at law to be compensated for that baby’s pain and suffering, that baby’s life long need for care, for treatment and the baby’s inability to function as a normal healthy adult when he grows up.

CS       It is only a consolation prize isn’t it?

SG      Absolutely, money doesn’t bring back anything.

CS       It’s brain injury awareness week too starting on the 15th of August. What should we all be doing for Brain Injury Awareness week?

SG      I think we should be aware of the most traumatic type of brain injury which is the preventable acquired brain injury. Many of us don’t know that most brain injury is preventable, these are examples of what happened to these babies at this hospital of how preventable and avoidable most brain injuries are and it’s a devastating thing when a brain injury is acquired through means that could have been preventable.

CS       I’ve done a lot of work for the Royal Rehabilitation Centre – Royal Rehab at Ryde in Sydney and some of the stories there are just beyond heartbreaking and you know it’s just there for the grace of God go all of us and it’s something that we should be aware of beginning the 15th of August – that Brain Injury Awareness Week. John, you’ve got a question for Sally. She is listening go right ahead.

Caller 1 – John

John   Yeah mate. Well this is such a minor matter in the grand scheme of things with what you are talking about, but um I just don’t know whether it is somewhere we could go with this. My daughter is now a young mum with three kids. She broke her finger, but I mean broke it as in seriously seriously broke it eight weeks ago and they had to pin it and screw it and all the rest of it and then they took the pins out and everything last week and basically she had to go and see a specialist and he’s taken one look at it and said “Listen, they shouldn’t have …….as soon as they saw the x-rays, they should have sent you to me. They should not have attempted this. They used the wrong pins, they used etc etc”.  And this week she’s got to go and have it re-broken and re-done and it looks like she is going to lose her job over it. So, you know… like is there any sort of recourse here or you say oh well, you can’t help bad luck?

SG      It depends very much on how the second surgery is that’s hopefully going to fix the problem turns out John. Hopefully the second surgeon that she is seeing will fix it and she’ll have no long term or ongoing problems, but if you say she might lose her job over it, I’m thinking that there may be ongoing and permanent problems but it depends very much on how she recovers. Unfortunately when someone suffers an injury that needs to be rectified with medical treatment you have to look at that injury and what that injury by itself without that medical treatment would have caused that person long term and separated from any potential medical negligence. So there are really hard questions at law but one where we would need to wait. Very happy to talk to your daughter but we need to wait and see how things go for her in the future with that finger.

John   Okay, now it sounds such a minor thing but where she lives there are not a lot of jobs..

SG      No not a minor thing at all we just …. Turner Freeman just won a case for a young man in Court about finger injury. The Judge handed down a decision a couple of weeks ago in relation to this very issue. This man suffered an injury to one finger and whilst it was considered minor by the insurance company he was awarded a lot of money because it does have an impact, a cascading impact on someone’s life, so not minor at all.

CS       Yeah these things are relative. All right John. Thank you. All the very best to you and her. Bob. Go right ahead.

Caller 2 – Bob 

Bob     Yeah. How are you going?

CS       Okay.

Bob     That’s the way. Listen, just a quick question. I’ve been on compo for a little while and I’ve been told that by law I can do my doctor’s appointments and all that on my own time. Is this right?

SG      Do you mean seeing your doctor for treatment?

Bob     Yeah and then getting rostered on for work after the appointment.

SG      So this is a workers compensation injury is it? 

Bob     Yes.

SG      Okay, so your employer as part of its duties under the Workers Compensation Legislation has to ensure that they work in conjunction with the Workplace Co-ordinator to make sure that you can go back to work and to go back to work you need to get the treatment that you need.  So no that is not entirely correct. So they have to accommodate you and ensure that….. because it’s in their interest to ensure that you can return to work so for you to return to work you have to get that treatment.  So they have to make available to you the times that you can get that treatment as part of your work duties.

Bob     But now I’ve fully returned to work now. 

SG      Yes.

Bob     And I’ve got my last doctor’s appointment next week some time. Now they are rostering me on after that doctor’s appointment.

SG      To go back to full-time work or normal work?

Bob     No I’ve been back to full time work for a couple of months now but every appointment has been on my own time.

SG      Sure. Okay, well are they paying you the same wage or are you losing any money?

Bob     Paying the same wage but, yeah. I’ve had to do…. It’s been ongoing for a while about 12 months.

SG      Yes

Bob     I’ve had to….. as soon as I got back to doing what I was normally doing, every appointment was on my own time.

SG      I understand what you are saying… I mean these things…. It’s a bit of give and take.

Bob     Yep.

SG      Your employer has to be understanding and of course there are instances where you have to see your doctor on your own time.

CS       Yeah.  Ah, Bob. Maybe you could take it further with Sally through Turner Freeman but I’ll leave it there but I want to get to as many calls and try and get as much advice out there as I possibly can this afternoon. Our Legal Matters Segment will continue right after a quick break brought to you by Turner Freeman. Its 12 minutes to 2.

CS       9 to 2.  Thank you for your company this afternoon. Our Legal Matters Segment and some really interesting questions already this afternoon in our medical law focus. I’ve got that $100 Westfield voucher still to give away all brought to you by Turner Freeman Lawyers. David.  I’ve just been told that you’ve got an incredible story to tell us. Go ahead.

Caller 3 – David

David             How are you?

CS       I’m very well.

David              Yeah, a couple of years ago my wife had an operation and she was left with a large surgical instrument inside her for about 6 months and during that time she was in immense pain and we’ve kept going back to the doctors and they’ve  just increasing it and she ended up on morphine and finally they went in and they’ve had surgery to see what the problem was and they’ve found this instrument that’s been left inside her for 6 months.

CS       Wow.  What sort of….. what exactly sort of an instrument and how big was it?

David                          it was about 5 inches – like an angular instrument – about 5 inches long.  About three quarters of an inch wide and um yeah it was stainless steel.  So solid steel.

CS       Oh, okay.

SG      How’s your wife now David?

David                          Well she’s had a further two more surgeries.

SG      Yes.

David                          And we had some advice before about whether we could take some action against them but we were virtually told because she wasn’t working and it was only going to be pain and suffering and it wasn’t worth their while because anything we would have got wouldn’t have covered the legal expenses sort of thing. Is that true?  or……

SG      It’s based on every individual case so….

David              Yeah.

SG      So if your wife…. I mean presumably your wife is still suffering, she’s still….

David  Yes…. yes.

SG      She’s still not 100%..

David              Yes.

SG      So then she is always entitled… I mean it’s a relative assessment but that story is just absolutely appalling and considering what she’s been through and what you’ve just described there is no doubt she’s entitled to some decent compensation particularly for pain and suffering.  Psychologically how’s your wife?

David              Um, she’s got …. like – well – she’s not the same. Towards the end of it, it was like living with a drug addict – like she was high on morphine all the time……

SG      Sure.

David  and…….

CS       I bet

David                          But she is getting better but it has knocked her around a bit.

SG      Absolutely and it would. So these things are relative, it’s a subjective assessment and it is a case by case basis but it definitely not something that is trivial in any way, shape or form.

CS       It might be advisable for you David to get a second opinion through Sally I would have thought.

David                          I might do that. I will.

CS                               Yeah. Stay there. Look the other thing is I’ll get you a $100 Westfield Voucher too…. very very small consolation but quite an incredible nightmare to get through. $100 Westfield Voucher coming your way David. Stay right there.

David  Thank you.

CS       Wow. Have you heard of that before?

SG      I have.

CS       You have?

SG      I have heard of it. Unfortunately nothing that I hear is shocking.

CS       All right Turner Freeman Lawyers have a pop up store at East Gardens at Westfield, South of Sydney all of this week. You can go there. My Sydney audience can go there for legal enquiries. It’s located on the ground floor opposite Angus and Coote and we’ll be there all this week until Sunday. You can check out the Turner Freeman Facebook page to stay up to date our news and events. So you’ve got a second job have you at East Gardens?

SG      Always.

CS       Always. Yeah. John go right ahead. Sally is listening.

Caller 4           John 

John   Hello.

SG      Hi Sally.

John   Um look Sally I had polio and I went it to public hospital and I had a knee done.  Now the first thing was that after 4 days, the head nurse came around and said “you shouldn’t be…….  You should be out of here by now because you only had a knee done”. And I couldn’t even get out of bed. Anyway, they brought along this thing you know – this high thing to be your hands on. Well I said “look in 40 years I’ve never been able to use that with walking”. So she said :”Yes you will – you definitely will’.  Well in the end I managed to see the doctor the next morning and said “Look, I just can’t use it – especially with having only one leg that works properly”. So then it came to going into the bathroom where she then did the same problem….. said “right, I’m not going to help you” and just walked off. Now this happens quite regularly and I wanted….. you know I’m frightened to go to hospital basically.

SG      Yeah.

CS       Wow.

SG      Yeah. It does happen quite regularly. People have surgery. The right thing is done by them and then they are left off on their own and they don’t feel that they can mobilise … they don’t think they can get around and they don’t get the nursing care that they feel that they deserve. I …. presumably nothing happened John? You didn’t fall or hurt yourself?

John   They dropped me on the floor.

SG      Oh.  I’m very sorry to hear that.

John   ……… the second time and I got someone to come over and said “Look I can’t get off this ……. because my left leg doesn’t work… it won’t take the weight……”. So they dropped me straight on the floor……

CS       Look, we are out of time but this is something John, you might want to talk to Sally about off air and maybe she can sort of adjudicate your case and see where it can go any further because if you are having patients fall on the floor that’s not necessarily great care is it?

SG      Absolutely not.

CS       All right Sally Gleeson. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon.

SG      Thanks Chris.

CS       From Turner Freeman Lawyers.


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