Victims of medical negligence can feel that no matter how much they speak up that their voices are never heard. A good lawyer will encourage them, however, as speaking up against health professionals and organisations can lead to changes in the system. Cases of medical negligence certainly aren’t rare in Sydney nor the rest of Australia but some small grains of hope can come out of them.
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It was few years ago now, back in 2011, when the WA Northam Hospital was caught up in a medical negligence scandal that would have great impact on the way that hospitals in the state must operate. Andrew Allan was 14 when his parents took him to the hospital as he was having difficulty breathing and had a temperature of 40ºC. A nurse examined Allan before declaring him fit to go home. He died in bed some hours later.
Allan’s case was reviewed and it was found that the nurse who’d seen to him was inexperienced and by viewing CCTV footage it was obvious that Allan was severely unwell. Footage showed that the 14-year-old struggled to walk and collapsed onto a sofa upon entering the hospital.
It’s a small relief to Allan’s grieving parents that some changes have come out of their son’s unfortunate death. For starters the nurse who discharged Allan was fired because of the seriousness of the incident and because he refused to co-operate with a Health Department review into the case. State-wide changes were also made after reviewing Allan’s case. Now every patient must be seen by a qualified triage nurse before any secondary assessment in the emergency department, anyone with a high temperature must be seen by a doctor and if a patient is to be discharged from a rural hospital without being seen by a GP, the case must be very carefully and closely reviewed by an experienced emergency nurse.
It can be extremely difficult to speak up about medical negligence but it’s also extremely important that you do so that other people don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. If you’d like to know more about medical negligence have a look at Is Medical Negligence Sydney’s Silent Scourge?