A recent report (commissioned by Mackay Hospital and Health Service) revealed that inadequate care in the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology service contributed to the death of three babies and harm to women who were patients.
The hospital is offering compensation for patients who may have experienced an adverse outcome following treatment in hospital, via something called a compensation assessment pathway.
Before accepting compensation and entering into an agreement, it is important that you understand your rights and what this means.
If you raised concerns about the treatment you received, you may have been offered compensation following a review of your circumstances and injury. During the complaint process, a clinical review committee would have considered your complaint and if you were eligible, and a decision about the need for further treatment made, an amount of compensation may have been offered.
The hospital would advise if you are eligible for compensation as part of this process.
It’s important to note that the compensation offered to you under this pathway is generally limited. It can include compensation for past expenses, future treatment expenses and may include a small acknowledgement of your complaints.
If you have complained but you’re not happy with the response you received, you can also lodge a complaint with the Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland. If you have not been offered compensation under the hospital pathway, you may still be entitled to compensation.
You are entitled to seek independent legal advice before accepting compensation and signing any documents. Usually, when you accept a settlement offer, you will be required to sign something called a deed of release and discharge. This document will prevent you from bringing any claim in the future relating to the incident, and may prevent you from receiving compensation for things like lost earnings, future treatment costs and any other assistance you may require, like rehabilitation or time off work
If you suffer from ongoing injuries that impact your ability to work, or mean that you need ongoing care and assistance, you may be entitled to a greater compensation amount than what is being offered.
If you require further treatment, it is important to consider if the cost of your future treatment and related expenses are reflected in the compensation amount being offered. If your injuries are not yet stable (meaning that it’s still unknown if your condition will get better or worse) it is important to consider whether it is an appropriate time to accept compensation when the extent of your injury and future prognosis may be unknown.
By law, you may be required to refund Centrelink, Medicare and/or the National Disability Insurance Scheme if you receive compensation. The refund amounts are deducted from your compensation amount and these vary from person to person and can sometimes be significant. You should seek advice regarding any possible refunds and the amounts before accepting compensation.
You may be required to sign an acknowledgement that the settlement is confidential. It is important you understand all of the terms of the agreement before signing, as there can be serious consequences if you do not comply with the terms of the agreement.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.