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Recently I was reminded of a matter I was involved in some years ago involving a lady undergoing abdominal surgery at a Sunshine Coast Hospital.

After her abdomen has been opened by the surgeon, it was necessary for the operating table to be tilted to allow the surgeon access to the particular area of the abdomen that needed attention. Upon tilting the operating table, the lady slid off the operating table impacting heavily with the floor and sustaining an injury. Thankfully there were no issues with her abdomen and internal body parts during the incident.

Interestingly, the patient was not informed of the event until a couple of days after the event when her recovery was complicated by the physical injury that had been sustained through impacting with the floor. The surgeon and hospital came clean on what had occurred at the time.

I was reminded of this event recently, as I was required to give advice to another person where the same event ‘almost’ occurred. This person had been saved from falling from the operating table by the nursing staff in theatre. The fact of the event occurring was volunteered to the patient during their recovery in the hospital.

Whilst these events are almost ‘funny’ in their calamity, mishaps occurring in Queensland hospitals are unfortunately a frequent occurrence and many times with long-lasting and/or catastrophic consequences.

Of course, the cause of most poor outcomes from surgeries or other treatment at hospitals is not so clear cut.

In order to successfully pursue a claim for medical negligence, you must first establish that any injury or adverse outcome occurred as a result of negligence on the part of the medical practitioner. A finding of negligence will be dependent upon a finding that:

  1. A duty of care was owed;
  2. The duty of care was breached;
  3. As a result of the breach of duty the patient has sustained an injury.

Determining whether a breach of the duty of care has occurred is of upmost importance when investigating matters of this type. The duty owed by a medical practitioner to a patient is one to adhere to a standard of reasonable care[i]. Determining the standard of such care generally requires an examination of whether the care provided met an appropriate standard when viewed against that which could be expected of a competent practitioner exercising or professing to have that particular skill.

Many times, a determination of whether the appropriate degree of care has been provided is dependent upon an expert opinion from suitably qualified practitioners with the required skill set.

In Queensland, such claims fall within the application of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. That legislation imposes strict time limits upon a potential claimant to provide notice to a potential Respondent and to obtain liability evidence from a suitably qualified expert.

Due to the complicated nature of many potential medical negligence claims and the strict time limits that apply, it is important that persons concerned about adverse outcomes they have sustained from medical treatment seek legal advice at an early stage.

GKS Law has legal practitioners experienced in advising in respect of medical negligence matters.


[i] Rogers v Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479


GKS Law offers a cost free, obligation free initial appointment. Please contact us today to organise an appointment with one of our Personal Injury Lawyers.


Shane Crew
Shane Crew

This article was written by Shane Crew, Special Counsel at GKS Law. Shane works in Personal Injury Law and has more than eighteen years’ experience working with GKS Law clients to secure their future.

You can contact Shane or any of the Personal Injury team by email on mail@gkslaw.com.au or call the office on 07 3284 5093.