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WINNER Personal Injury Law Firm of the Year

Medical Negligence Cases Australia.

Medical negligence cases in Australia are generally the result of mistakes made during procedures, delays in diagnosis or incorrect diagnosis of medical conditions or injuries. The impact on the patients can be devastating and adjusting to the reality of life with ongoing pain, illness or disabilities can be incredibly challenging.

Everyone’s story is different. But looking into recent medical negligence cases can give some insight into how these cases can happen, the impact on the patients, and how compensation can be a lifeline and improve their quality of life. This article tells the heart-breaking stories of four of our recent medical negligence cases in Australia, including the settlements we successfully claimed for these clients.

Pauline, injured during termination of pregnancy.

This medical negligence case in Australia from 2019 involved Pauline, a healthy mother in her mid-thirties with one daughter, who became pregnant with her second child. However, after a routine check-up revealed complications, Pauline made the heart-breaking decision to terminate her pregnancy at week 18.

Pauline was under general anaesthesia for the termination, which involved suction evacuation of the uterus and extraction of the foetus using forceps. However, during the extraction she suffered a perforated bowel, caused by the use of forceps.

After over two weeks in hospital, Pauline spent six months recovering from her injuries and required two follow up surgeries over the next two years.

As a result of these injuries and surgeries, Pauline struggles with a range of gastrointestinal issues and anxiety that have significantly impacted her quality of life and restricted her career progression.

Law Partners took on Pauline’s medical negligence case and funded a number of expert medical reports to build a strong case on her behalf. The result was a settlement of $1.48 million paid to Pauline by the insurer.

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Helen, delayed diagnosis of appendicitis.

Medical negligence cases are especially heart-breaking when they involved young patients. Helen was a healthy 21-year-old competitive swimmer and life saver, when she suddenly experienced abdominal pain. Her mum took her see her GP, who ordered an ultrasound and diagnosed her pain as an ovarian cyst. The pain worsened, so Helen’s mum took her to hospital, where she was given Morphine, monitored for 24 hours then sent home.

Helen stayed home feeling unwell for the next week, but she was losing weight rapidly. Eventually the pain became so severe her mum called an ambulance and she was taken back to hospital where she was sent for a CT scan, which showed a ruptured appendicitis. Helen was treated and spent 10 days in hospital. 11 weeks later Helen had to return to hospital for a follow up surgical procedure.

Helen continued to suffer health issues, pain, and anxiety long after her treatment had finished, and a reduced capacity to work. She was unable to return to competitive swimming or lifesaving.

Law Partners successfully argued that Helen’s ongoing health issues were the result of a delayed diagnosis of appendicitis, and Helen was awarded a compensation settlement of $750k.

Geoff, paraplegia caused by delayed diagnosis.

Tragically, medical negligence cases in Australia sometimes result in permanent disability, as was the case with our client, Geoff. Geoff had experienced neck pain for two days when he decided to go to the emergency department, where he was kept overnight, and a CT scan was performed in the morning. He was prescribed pain medication and discharged but told to return to the hospital if the pain became worse, or if he had other symptoms like fever or dizziness.

Concerned about the severity of the neck pain and feeling weakness in his arms and legs, Geoff returned to the hospital the next day. He was diagnosed with a strained neck muscle, and once again discharged, despite feeling extremely unwell.

On the third day, Geoff called a friend to come and help him. His limbs had stopped working and he collapsed on the floor. Geoff’s friend called an ambulance and by the time it arrived he was unresponsive. Geoff was diagnosed with a cervical spinal epidural abscess caused by a staph infection and rushed into surgery.

As a result, Geoff was left paraplegic, and now requires a range of treatments, home help and home modifications in order to maintain some level of independence.

Our medical negligence lawyer successfully argued that the delay in Geoff’s diagnosis by the hospital was the cause of his paraplegia, and he was awarded $4.5M in compensation to cover his losses and pain and suffering and to support his future care and treatment expenses.

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Ibrahim – incorrect diagnosis of a broken wrist.

Incorrect diagnosis of injuries can also lead to medical negligence cases in Australia, as highlighted by this case from 2020.

Ibrahim suffered a wrist injury in a mountain biking accident. He went to see a GP at his local medical centre who referred him for an x-ray, but before receiving the radiologist’s report, the GP inaccurately interpreted the x-ray herself and told Ibrahim that there was no break and to just ice his wrist.

The GP received the report the next day confirming that Ibrahim had sustained a slight break of the scaphoid bone in the wrist, which requires urgent medical treatment in the form of a cast or surgery. The GP instructed her receptionist to call Ibrahim to make an appointment to come in but didn’t tell her that he needed urgent treatment.

Ibrahim’s GP made no attempt to contact him again and almost six weeks after the injury, Ibrahim rang the medical centre to book in an appointment as his wrist was very sore. He saw a different GP who referred him for another x-ray, and he was immediately referred to hospital when the GP received the report confirming a severe fracture.

Ibrahim was booked into surgery a few weeks later to unite the broken bones but the surgery was unsuccessful. As a result, Ibrahim could no longer work, ride his bike, or even complete simple tasks like brushing his teeth with his injured wrist.

Law Partners put together a comprehensive medical negligence case detailing how the injury will continue to impact Ibrahim’s life and convinced the judge to award $1.2M in compensation.

Do you have a claim?

We’re fortunate to have very high standards of medical care in Australia, and most people will never have to face the reality of a medical negligence case. But for those who do, claiming medical negligence compensation is an essential part of the journey back to the best possible quality of life.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or illness that may have been caused by medical negligence, you can call 13 15 15 and have a confidential conversation with a specialist medical malpractice lawyer. There’s no cost for this service.

Shane Butcher


An accredited specialist in personal injury law and spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, with the best part of 20 years’ experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to.