Defences to Medical Negligence Claims.

Under Australian law, there are a number of ways a medical practitioner can defend a claim of medical negligence.

A medical practitioner is able to defend a medical negligence claim where they can prove: they did not have a duty of care, their behaviour met the ‘standard of care’ of a reasonable person, that the damage suffered was not caused the breach, or that a ‘reasonable person’ could not foresee the damage suffered.

In other words, they just have to disprove any of the legal requirements for medical negligence.
In reality, ‘duty of care’ defences are extremely rare for the duty is deemed inherent within the medical practitioner / patient relationship and the courts have applied the duty to all aspects of their involvement with a patient.

Almost all medical negligence defences are fought on a ‘breach of duty’ and ‘causation’ – with causation requiring the defendant to show it was ‘more probable than not’ that the breach did not cause the injury and any resultant loss. Under Australian law, it’s not uncommon to prove medical negligence, but fail to show this resulted in damages.

Other defences to medical negligence claims: 

In addition to the above legal defences for medical negligence claims, a medical practitioner has a defence where they can show either: Contributory negligence (i.e. that the patient has contributed to their loss and that the injury occurred as a result of the patient failing to take reasonable care for their health/safety) or that they were acting as a “Good Samaritan” (i.e. they were not coming to the aid of someone in an emergency situation).

© Medical Negligence Claim – Defences to Medical Negligence Claims