Medical Malpractice/Medical Board found in my favour
On 5th Nov 2009 I suffered complications from a D&C procedure for miscarriage. I haemorrhaged internally which was not identified for 14 hours and was then left for another 6 hours before being given blood. I was not adequately treated with antibiotics and developed peritonitis. I was admitted to another hospital where I was operated on and treated for 2 weeks. I had previously been able to fall pregnant naturally (though misccarried) but after was left completely infertile in spite of reconstructive surgery (all at my expense). It took 9 cycles of assisted reproduction (ivf) when I finally had my baby. My ovaries were so damaged I am now in premature menopause and cannot have any more children without donor eggs/ivf again. Today, 3.5 years after this incident I finally received a letter from the medical board telling me they have disciplined the doctor because they have determined his clinical aftercare, conduct and professional performance were unsatisfactory. Although the time limit for suing has passed, this is not my fault because I was put on hold by the Medical board and complaints commission where I live. I do think I would be able to appeal for an extension.
Do I need to do this? Seeing as I have the medical board's determination of unprofessional/unsatisfactory conduct in relation to my care am I able to approach this doctor directly with a request for compensation for costs I have incurred as a direct result of his poor care?
Do I have an open/shut case now? This ordeal was life changing and financially devastating.
Any advice will be much appreciated. (I sought legal advice during the interim (waiting for the medical board) but was told I would be unlikely to win without the board's determination). I think this letter might change that.
Anne: I would like to offer advice of value to you but surely you understand that the laws of medical malpractice, the laws of compensation for injury, the laws of time limits and how to extend them to seek compensation......even the medical standard of care..........all vary widely I am sure between the USA and Australia. I know nothing about your system down under so you should contact someone in your own country for advice. If this case happened here in the US, I would say clearly that you could not extend the Statute of Limitations. You knew the Medical Board was investigating and therefore you knew that you may have been a victim of malpractice and that knowledge is what triggers the time to run. The other issue regards the infertility. At great effort, pain and suffering, and expense, you were able to have a successful pregnancy. I would have liked to know how many successful pregnancies you have had, your marital status and your age..........all in order to assess you damages. They would have to be very high in order to interest a law firm in taking the case. Notwithstanding what the Board found, at least here, it is a given that the doctor would deny liability and the fight would be long and hard and expensive. So, contact a legal expert in Australia on the subject. My guess is that the answer will be similar to mine. I would be curious to know. Good luck. P.S. Asking the offending doctor directly for compensation is not worth the cost of a postage stamp on the envelope. He/she doesn't think you were treated wrongly. Hell, the hospital and he were both extremely busy that day. They worked as best they could under the circumstances, they saved your life, you got pregnant again, you had underlying medical issues that were the source of your problems etc. etc. That is what they think. And if you have no legal recourse, the Board has already done their job, they have no reason whatsoever to take money from their own pockets. They owe you nothing. Anyhow, that is how they would see your request for compensation. Don't demean yourself in such a way. That is my advice.
P.S.S. I do not even know what the effect of the Board "ruling" in your favor means in your country. Does that mean you will be compensated? Does it mean any medical expenses will be waived. Does it mean only that the doctor will be penalized in some manner? You see? I can't give meaningful legal advice for a situation in another country.