What is the biggest payout for medical negligence in the ACT?

Published 22 Nov 2017

Author: Christine Beshay

Medical negligence payouts can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the biggest settlements may result in a plaintiff receiving compensation worth millions.

So what is the largest payout that a hospital in the ACT has ever made? This is a difficult question to answer, as many claims are often settled before they reach a public hearing in court.

As part of the payout agreement, the plaintiff is usually asked to sign a confidentiality clause that prevents them from discussing the amount and terms of the settlement.

However, if medical practitioners choose to defend a claim, the results become a matter of public record. We've scoured the ACT Supreme Court website to identify the biggest payout in recent years.

Baby develops cerebral palsy due to medical negligence

In 2004, a severely disabled woman was awarded nearly $8.4 million after Justice Malcolm Gray ruled that her doctors were negligent during her delivery as a baby.

The plaintiff, who was born in 1980, developed cerebral palsy due to brain damage she sustained while being born.

Her mother was a high-risk pregnancy, and the obstetrician who oversaw the birth was accused of several instances of medical negligence, including:

  • Not recognising foetal distress quickly enough;
  • Delaying a caesarean birth, despite the plaintiff's mother experiencing two genital haemorrhages; and
  • A failure to diagnose placenta praevia, which is a condition where the placenta is abnormally located within the uterus.

In a letter to a fellow obstetrician following the birth, the defendant doctor said:

"We have had a disaster with [the patient's mother] … although the baby is alive it appears to have severe neurological damage and, frankly, I hope it doesn't survive. I feel that I didn't do too much good last Sunday."

A record medical negligence payout

When awarding the settlement, Justice Gray admitted it was a "very significant figure" and pointed to the serious disabilities that the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the defendant's negligence.

Future care costs alone were calculated at more than $4.3 million, as the woman needs 24-hour support from two attendants.

"The purpose of damages is to award such [a] sum of money as will, as nearly as possible, put the plaintiff in the same position as if she had not been injured by the defendants' negligence," Justice Gray explained.

Do you believe you have experienced medical negligence while receiving treatment in the ACT? Please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.

Phone 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment