Successful Medical Negligence Claim Against GP

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Successful medical negligence compensation claim against Dr Soroush Ziaee, general practitioner.

CASE SUMMARY

Between July 2013 and August 2016, when (Mr Rubino underwent emergency surgery due to infection in his right foot) he consulted with Dr Ziaee 19 times about hyperkeratosis (commonly known as a “corn”), pain and other symptoms in his right foot.  In 2014, Mr Rubino was referred to a surgeon in the Australian Capital Territory.

Mr Rubino sued Dr Ziaee for causing injuries by failing to treat the corn adequately, including by failing to refer him to a surgeon earlier and failing to treat his condition (other than by prescribing panaedine forte) before 5 February 2014, when Dr Ziaee performed an excision of the corn under local anaesthetic. Mr Rubino developed an infection in his foot which spread and required two procedures in August 2016: the first was for an incision and drainage of the right foot abscess, the second was for debridement and washout of the right foot abscess.

Mr Rubino alleged that his negligently caused injuries included an antalgic gait, difficulty walking, ongoing pain, somatic symptom disorder and an adjustment order with depressive mood.

 

ACT SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT

Associate Justice McWilliam of the ACT Supreme Court found that all Dr Ziaee really did for a two year period was manage Mr Rubino’s pain and that from at least December 2014, the referral pathway was not managed reasonably. During the hearing Dr Ziaee alleged that Mr Rubino should have seen a podiatrist.

There was an issue about what happened during the consultation on 5 February 2014 but Associate Justice McWilliam accepted Mr Rubino’s version of events.

Associate Justice McWilliam noted that the frequency of Mr Rubino’s consultations with Dr Ziaee demonstrated his need for improvement of his condition to reduce the pain to a level where he could walk and work with the strong pain medication prescribed. Her Honour found that if Dr Ziaee had treated Mr Rubino in a timely and adequate manner, even if he had required the second procedure in August 2016, this procedure would have occurred at least a year earlier without the scale of infection that made surgery urgent and the pain experienced by Mr Rubino would have been much less and his mobility would have been better.

Mr Rubino was aged 39 at the time of the hearing. Associate Justice McWilliam ordered Dr Ziaee to pay Mr Rubino $184,645 in compensation. This included damages for loss of income and superannuation ($50,000), out of pocket and treatment expenses ($2,000), care and domestic assistance ($53,925) and general damages for pain and suffering and scarring ($78,720).

The full decision can be read here:

https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/act/ACTSC/2021/331.html?context=1;query=rubino%20and%20ziaee;mask_path

 

PRACTICAL POINTS  

  • It is difficult to assign legal blame to patients for delays in treatment and follow up when they necessarily rely on the expertise of their doctors and trust them.
  • Even if you had a pre-existing condition which required surgical or other intervention, it does not mean that your injuries were not caused or significantly worsened by negligence for which the doctor’s insurer must pay you compensation.
  • Even if there is a factual dispute about what happened, the Court will accept and believe the patient’s version if the evidence is compelling. It is important to listen to patients’ complaints in a medical setting and in legal cases about inadequate treatment.

 

HOW CAN STACKS GOUDKAMP HELP

If you or anyone you know has suffered a physical or psychiatric injury as a result of negligence by their  general practitioner or any medical negligence, a claim for compensation can provide you with the financial care and support needed to move forward.

Stacks Goudkamp’s specialist medical negligence team have the expert knowledge and expertise needed to obtain outstanding results in all types of medical malpractice claims.

We will act for you on a no win, no fee basis. We will gather medical, expert, witness and other evidence for you. We will listen to you and understand how your injuries have affected your quality of life, daily activities, work and all aspects of your life.

 

Written by Puja Payal

Puja Payal is a lawyer in our Medical Negligence Practice Group.  Puja assists Alicia Wong  who is an Accredited Specialist is Personal Injury Law and practices exclusively in medical negligence claims.

If you or a loved one are a victim of medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.  For more information and to arrange a free, no-obligation claim assessment, please call Stacks Goudkamp on (02) 8294 7711, or alternatively make an  online enquiry

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