• Alison Phillis

Adverse Medical Event

For 20 years, readers of the Centralian Advocate looked forward to the Friday edition. Therein Povey Stirk Lawyers published a 300 word tale of fiction based on legally newsworthy events.

The following is a sample of these blogs.


11th September 2019

Studies have shown that approximately 10% of people admitted to hospital suffer an adverse medical event, and up to half of these events are preventable. In a small proportion of cases the adverse event has long-term effects such as permanent injury or death. Sometimes the adverse event is due to an unavoidable complication, but sometimes it can be due to an error on behalf of the treating staff, or it can be due to a failure of the systems of the clinic or hospital.


If you suffer an adverse outcome, you should first discuss it with your treating doctor. They may be able to explain why the adverse event has happened, and advise as to any further treatment that is available to you. If that does not resolve your concerns, or if you believe that the adverse outcome was avoidable, you should contact the management of the clinic or hospital where the treatment was provided. They may convene a panel to review the incident, and may negotiate a resolution with you, which may include the payment of compensation. You may wish to engage a lawyer to assist you in negotiations.


Complaints can also be made to the Health and Community Services Complaint Commission at www.hcscc.nt.gov.au, who can assist parties to resolve the issue, and may be able to achieve outcomes such as an apology, an explanation of what happened, or compensation. Notifications about individual registered health practitioners can also be made to the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency at www.ahpra.gov.au, who can refer the matter to the appropriate National Board. The National Boards can decide whether disciplinary measures should be taken against the practitioner.


Where the adverse medical event has caused the patient to incur considerable medical or care costs, or loss of income, it may be appropriate to commence court proceedings to recover compensation. If you think you may have a claim, you should consult a lawyer within three years of the adverse event.

Disclaimer: This document provides general information and is not legal advice. While we endeavour to ensure the information is correct at the date of publication, laws frequently change. If anything in this post is relevant to you, please contact us for advice on your specific situation