Why are medical negligence cases that are settled outside of court kept off doctors records?

Ashley Blundell underwent breast augmentation surgery in 2013 at the hands of Dr Peter Kim.

Two weeks after her surgery Ashley began to feel very unwell, she was experiencing fevers and chills and one of her breasts had begun to slip causing her incision to open.

When her breast “exploded” she noticed that her breast was badly infected. At this stage Ashley knew something had gone wrong with her surgery. After getting her implants removed she decided to sue Dr Peter Kim for negligence and for the cost of a number of repair surgeries amounting to at least $20,000.

However, she later found out that this was not Dr Peter Kim’s first negligence case and he had in fact been sued for negligence a number of times previously, but had always settled outside of court.

What does Settling Outside of Court do?

By settling outside of court Dr Peter Kim was able to avoid having his negligence recorded on his practitioner record.

By settling outside of court it is as if the negligence case never existed and the negligent acts never occurred, even though in Ashley’s case an independent medical professional found that Dr Peter Kim had not completed the procedure properly, put the wrong size implants in, and provided inadequate post-operative care.

No doubt there is an issue with this process. If the same doctor is being sued for negligence over and over again clearly something is not quite right with the practitioner and their standards.

Presently, the law surrounding this issue does not allow for publishing of negligence claims that settle inside, or outside of the court system.

This is an issue for the governing body of Doctors in Australia, the AMA. Clearly more needs to be done to cancel or suspend practicing licenses by Doctors who are repeatedly sued for negligence.

The same applies to any professional bodies including lawyers.

About Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling, Founder of Garling & Co is a NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. He specialises in compensation law and has acted on behalf of thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases over the last 20 years.

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