The Difference Between Negligence and Inherent Risk in Australia

Medical negligence refers to a situation when an individual is owed a duty and a medical professional’s negligent actions, behaviors or lack of taking necessary care breached the duty and resulted in harm. Although it may sound simple, the process of determining the liability and understanding the difference between the inherent risk and the malpractice is challenging. Under the laws, the victims of such malpractice can make a compensation claim which may include damages for further medical expenses and loss of income. For more serious incidents, if the injuries resulted in permanent incapacity, the victim may receive lump sum payout.

What is the inherent risk?

Inherent risk is the risk involved in the nature of the action –which is in this case, the surgery or the treatment-, which the patient should be informed before the treatment process. Prior to complex surgeries, many medical centers manage this process by notifying the patient with the percentage of the risk involved in the process, and get a document signed by the patient which proves the risk has taken by the individual’s own will. This is a simple process that demonstrates that the potential complications aren’t under the responsibility of the medical professionals.

Natural risk is involved in almost every branch of medical treatments. Some striking statistics demonstrate that operational complications arise more frequently than one could think about. However, these complications are just some common dizziness and post-surgery pains. As these complications are inherent, the medical employees still carry the responsibility to warn and inform the patient as a common person isn’t likely to be aware of these risks. Delaying or ignoring to warn the patient may be determined as a situation of negligence.

Complications and medical errors can also arise out of lack of care and by ignoring to follow the enforced procedure. Majority of the medical errors occur from the failure of the medical equipment, administrational errors and from the prescription of wrong medications.

Medical negligence

Negligence occurs when the professional ignores the accepted treatment procedure, fails to warn the patient, fails to assess the medical history of the patient before a surgery or a prescription, or when the defected health care products or equipment caused harm. Research shows that the majority of medical negligence situations during anesthesia is caused by human error.

Generally, in personal injury claims, the actions or behavior of a reasonable peer is being taken as a reference to distinguish the negligence from the inherent risk. Negligence can occur in many ways. Even in pre- and post-treatment processes, medical professionals should ensure every service provided by them is suitable for the necessary procedure.

Examples of medical negligence

Unfortunately, the human error factor in medical complications is quite common. However, the equipment being used in the treatment process and even if prescribed correctly, expired medications caused many permanent and severe medical conditions.

Birth defects are obviously the most heart-wrenching events of medical negligence. Other than the genetic disorders, bacterial infections, pre-delivery complications and labor process complications are common causes of birth defects. During the labor process, pressure on the infant’s nervous system can cause permanent damages such as muscular malformation. On the other hand, more serious occasions such as death during the delivery can be the reason of breath shortness. Which is an event that is preventable by a competent health care professional.

Prescription errors may cause permanent damages that can lead to a decrease in the capacity to perform daily tasks and decrease life expectancy. Before the prescription, the patient’s medical history, genetic disorders, physical condition, allergies and the ongoing usage of any other medications should be examined and evaluated.

If the medical professional caused damage to the patient that could be prevented by a reasonable peer professional, this is defined as medical negligence and the victim has a valid reason to make a compensation claim.

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