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Who’s going to deliver the babies after you’ve sued all the doctors?

By johnboy - 29 July 2008 51

[First filed: July 16, 2008 @ 07:50]

The Canberra Times is reporting on the law suit running against Dr Graeme Bates for his work delivering a baby with cerebral palsy 30 years ago:

    “Graeme Bates was working at Woden Valley Hospital in 1979 when was called on to deliver Kris Paul Grimmett, now 29.

    Mr Grimmett brought an action against Dr Bates in 2000, and the matter came before Justice Terry Connolly last year.

    Mr Grimmett’s lawyers had just closed their case when Justice Connolly died suddenly, and the case was postponed.”

I don’t doubt that Kris Paul Grimmett’s walked a hard road, but dragging long retired doctors into court (now having to represent himself) to try and explain why they did what they did so long ago doesn’t strike me as a great outcome.

UPDATED: Reports coming through that Dr Bates has won with the Government agreeing to pick up the plaintiff’s costs in exchange for calling off the whole sorry matter.

What’s Your opinion?

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51 Responses to
Who’s going to deliver the babies after you’ve sued all the doctors?
S4anta 1:22 pm 16 Jul 08

hee hee. Family Guy episode flashbacks.

something about a package stuck to Peter Griffins backside.

peterh 12:23 pm 16 Jul 08

considering that there are people taking IVF doctors to court for the impact that their new family has had on their potential earnings,(but we only wanted one child) this new story didn’t come as much of a surprise.

if my wife hadn’t had access to competent midwifes, the OB-Gyn and several other support staff at JJMH & TCH, I would now be a widower.

Considering the amount of blood she lost when my sons were delivered last year, as well as a clot and hemorrhage a couple of weeks later, if we had had no access to competent doctors, I would be raising 3 children on my own.

(really fast response from ACT Ambulance service too – thank god for the ambo’s)

If the continual litigation of doctors eventually drives them away from practicing, who will be left?

the incidents of litigation in all walks of life are on the increase – drop a chip in the mall, slip on it – where the hell did that come from??
and sue the centre for not keeping the floors clean…..

Mr Evil 11:36 am 16 Jul 08

Perhaps litigation lawyers can deliver the babies?

andym 11:18 am 16 Jul 08

Dr Bates was our OB-Gyn of choice when we had our little girl. I would use him again and would recommend him to anyone. Anyone living in Canberra knows getting a GP, let alone a good one is difficult, getting a good Ob-Gyn even harder.
Having a baby is a risky business, mothers and babies die every day in Australian hospitals. Negligence aside, suing the doctor doesnt solve anything and in the end makes the world a harder, more expensive place to live.

tylersmayhem 10:21 am 16 Jul 08

Yeah, it sounds a bit like he does not have insurance, or didn’t in those days (probably wasn’t as needed as these days). The insurance that doctors has to pay annually is gob-smacking! But all have to take it out in today’s climate.

johnboy 10:16 am 16 Jul 08

That he’s acting for himself suggests there’s no insurance cover in this case.

In cases where things go awry it would be nice to have an automatic medical review process to close the book on negligence (pending appeals for a limited period).

If Scrubs is to be believed they have this in the US already, but House watchers might have more info 😉

VicePope 10:13 am 16 Jul 08

Medical negligence is a difficult area, and probably one of the drivers for tightening of civil liability a few years back. We expect a lot from doctors, in relation to the important matters of our health, and mostly they deliver. When they don’t, that cannot mean automatic liability, and it cannot mean applying the standards of today (supported by remarkable technology) to medical decisions and actions that were taken a generation ago. But the patient should not bear the cost of a doctor who should not be practising because he or she lacks or has lost skill or is too arrogant to keep learning.

What can and should be the case is that, if a doctor informs the patient of the foreseeable risks of any choice being made, and then acts consistently with the best state of knowledge used by competent practitioners at the time, he or she will not be liable. Unfortunately, liability is not required for someone to start a claim and, sometimes, it is easier for an insurer to settle than to fight.

tylersmayhem 10:01 am 16 Jul 08

Just another step close to Australia becoming like the USA. Next will be our version of the sub-prime mortgage crisis without doubt!

gun street girl 9:57 am 16 Jul 08

I don’t think you’d find many within the industry who would disagree with you, FC. Nobody is suggesting that there shouldn’t be a way of holding truly rogue/rotten doctors accountable for true malpractice. The greater issue is the current climate of an overly litigious public who very much have the pendulum swung in their favour at present. Medical schools today lecture their students about WHEN they will be sued, rather than IF – it’s accepted as almost an inevitability for most in the industry, regardless of your ability and professionalism. More doctors lose than win in court, regardless of the strength of evidence for their case (this is why most cases are settled out of court). A lack of tort reform means that doctors can be sued decades after an event. Obstetricians have to continue paying into medical insurance for years after retirement as a result, and there have been cases of the _estates_ of obstetricians being sued for damages.

Should doctors be held accountable for their actions? Absolutely.
Should they be able to be successfully sued (indefinitely and retrospectively) for things that were not their fault and/or out of their control? No.

The public decry the idea of a doctor as a “god-like” figure, but are all too happy to sue when their medico turns out to be human, after all.

politikos 9:49 am 16 Jul 08

Ridiculous! People are developing unrealistic expectations of medical practitioners. They’re not miracle workers. They simply do their best given their training and resources. And bringing up a case from 30 years ago brings misery to all involved. They should all be allowed to get on with their lives rather than indulge in wishful thinking!

FC 9:48 am 16 Jul 08

Does anyone know what the particulars of the case are.
a lot of doctors do work hard, but they should also be accountable for their actions/

gun street girl 9:29 am 16 Jul 08

I don’t think you want to open that can of worms…

fnaah 9:26 am 16 Jul 08


VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 8:57 am 16 Jul 08

I think allowing this sort of thing is madness. Doctors work incredibly hard, and require many years of training, as well as very tight operating guidelines. To even entertain a lawsuit on the basis that something didn’t turn out right is crazy. Without the doc, the guy may not even have survived birth.

Thumper 8:11 am 16 Jul 08

The world has gone mad.

$50K for falling off a swing, suing doctors 30 years after the event, painting buses in Indigenous art to show some sort of symbolic solidarity…..

(Actually, I like the idea of the painted buses, they will look cool)

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