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SURGERY

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A Case Of Misjudgment Or Plain Oversight?

Medical horror stories involving surgeries have dotted the landscape across the world. In some pretty astonishing cases, the negligent acts of doctors performing surgery have caused much pain and suffering, and even deaths, to their patients.

 

In one such case (in the United Kingdom), the patient and her baby passed on after a surgical team removed the wrong organ from the mother.

Negligence As A Tort

Negligence as a tort requires more than mere lack of care. A claimant who wishes to sue in negligence must show:

  • that the defendant owed him a legal duty to take care;

  • that there was a breach of this legal duty by the defendant; and

  • that the breach caused him recoverable damage.

How To Sue For Surgical Negligence

Act Before Time Runs Out

The biggest mistake a patient can make is waiting too long to file a claim. Legal time limits require patients to file legal claims promptly. If you believe you have a case against a doctor / medical institution, contact us as early as possible to discuss your options. Please do not hesitate to seek legal advice even if you have lodged a complaint with the Singapore Medical Council (“SMC”). It may be too late to commence a civil claim if you choose to wait for the SMC investigative report to be released before seeking legal advice, as there is a limitation period for all negligence cases.

 

Determine The Parties At Fault

This is a crucial determination. Just because medical negligence has occurred at a hospital or clinic, does not necessarily mean that the facility can be held responsible. If your case is based on sub-standard care provided by an individual doctor, and that doctor is an independent contractor (as opposed to an employee of the hospital), you need to pursue a direct action against the doctor personally.

 

A case against the hospital will only be available if the doctor was an employee of the hospital or if the doctor’s incompetence should have been obvious to the hospital. To find out who to commence an action against, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Obtain Medical Records

A hospital must keep every patient’s medical records for at least 7 years after treatment. Upon request and payment of the applicable fees, the hospital must disclose copies of the records to the patient. Upon obtaining your written consent, your lawyers may also write to the relevant medical institution to make a request on your behalf. 

 

Comply With any Procedural Rules

Patients will have to overcome several legal hurdles before the filing of a lawsuit. A patient might have to file an affidavit in which a qualified medical expert attests that the plaintiff has a valid case. A patient might also have to submit a claim to a medical review board before filing a law suit, or attend mediation sessions as a form of alternative dispute resolution. These complex procedures require the experience of qualified lawyers to guide you through the process. 

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