You know your body better than anyone so don’t hesitate to ask for answers of the health professionals you are putting your complete trust in. It sounds like simple advice but as a Medical Negligence Lawyer at Shine Lawyers, I often see the unspeakable pain and suffering caused to innocent people who simply did not receive the level of care they were entitled to, and this World Health Day, I want to remind everybody, that that’s not good enough.
As we recognise World Health Day on the 7th of April remember to always trust your instincts and not to be overwhelmed by doctors and their assumed extensive knowledge. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself. Despite the extensive training doctors receive, and the billions of dollars being poured into our health care system, patients are still being dismissed by GPs or sent home from hospital emergency departments when it is not safe to do so. Patients like my client Nicole who knew something wasn’t right during her third trimester of pregnancy.
At 32 weeks pregnant, Nicole developed pre-eclampsia – usually characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy. Nicole’s pre-eclampsia was something the hospital she delivered at did not act on. The hospital’s failure to address her pre-eclampsia resulted in a cerebral palsy and epilepsy diagnosis in her beautiful baby girl, Ayvah.
Ayvah was born with severe disabilities and struggled to talk, eat and hear. After a year of struggling with ongoing seizures, young Ayvah devastatingly passed away. Her heartbroken family are now left to deal with the shocking grief that comes with losing a child, knowing too well that little Ayvah’s severe brain injury was preventable. Her treatment wasn’t good enough and sadly, she’s not the only one with a healthcare complaint.
Unfortunately, medical negligence complaints are on the rise, with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), reporting a 13.9% increase in grievances about the performance or conduct of a health practitioner.
Nicole, kindly allowed me to share her story to prevent further tragedies, encourage mothers like her to speak up and to remind the general public that if you feel you should be getting better treatment, you should demand it.
While young Ayvah was a gift to her mother, the struggles of living with a child with a disability, who suffers from seizures as a result of epilepsy is painful and trying at the best of times, and the eventual loss of that child is unbearable. No cure for the disease exists, which is often controlled as best as it can be by medication.
With many countries suffering wide gaps in the availability of health services, and costly treatment forcing families to choose to pay for healthcare over daily essentials like food, we rightly should feel very fortunate to live in a country that has a universal health care system which is largely government funded.
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In Australia, Medicare funds a large part of the cost of health services, typically covering 75% of general practitioner costs, if not all, 85% of specialist fees, and 100% of public in-hospital costs.
Working as a Medical Negligence lawyer tells me that regardless of who is paying; tax-payer or government, “health for all” should not be compromised. There are some serious shortfalls in our medical systems. It is not the standard you pay for and it is not the standard you should accept.
While most of our medical professionals do a fantastic job, the shortcomings of others, demand reform and review. There are few second chances when it comes to medical negligence. This World Health Day and beyond, remember to Trust your instincts and demand the care you and your loved ones deserve.
Clare Eves is a Medical Law Practice Manager at Shine Lawyers. You can learn more about Shine Lawyers at their website.