I almost died from surgical harm. Injured Australian patients deserve fair compensation

I almost died from surgical harm. Injured Australian patients deserve fair compensation

11 May 2022
Signatures: 16,627Next goal: 25,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Vickie Veitch

My name is Vickie. Five years ago I almost died after a routine prolapse surgery went horribly wrong and changed my life forever. I spent four brutal years fighting for compensation and to this day, the hospital has taken no responsibility for what happened to me.

I am not alone. When I shared my story with the ABC, Sarah, another injured patient and former journalist, contacted me to share that she had been denied compensation after fighting for 11 years. Sarah lost her court case many years ago because no doctor was willing to testify on her behalf. Her injury has resulted in permanent and severe disability, and her story broke my heart. 

The broken compensation system continues to punish Australians affected by healthcare injuries.

This is why Sarah and I are calling on the Federal Government to fix the broken system: change the legislation to make it fairer for Australians to access compensation and start a Parliamentary Inquiry into a compensation scheme for serious healthcare injuries.

To access compensation for losses from healthcare injuries, patients are forced to sue their healthcare professional or facility. But only those who meet certain conditions can do so.

Severely injured people rarely have the finances, energy or support to fight protracted legal battles. They are too overwhelmed by their injury, recovery, and financial losses to take on powerful insurance companies, which often use unfair practices to obstruct genuine victims’ claims. We are a vulnerable, unseen group with no bargaining power.

Australians with healthcare injuries are doubly disadvantaged: we have no access to an insurance safety net and are subject to discriminatory legal frameworks. These laws are weighted in favour of health practitioners and hospitals, as well as the insurers and lawyers which defend them. We’re not against doctors and nurses - just unfair, drawn out, expensive legal battles.

If our governments can provide an insurance safety net for people who are injured at work or in car accidents, they should be able to help Australians who are injured in our healthcare systems.

Australia’s compensation laws were toughened two decades ago to reduce the number and size of personal injury claims. Unfair thresholds and caps also serve to stop or reduce claims. As a result, only a tiny percentage of Australians who suffer from healthcare injuries ever receive compensation. A nationally consistent compensation scheme could be a simple, fair way to help injured Australians rebuild their lives.

Despite widespread criticism, this cruel and unfair system has gone unchallenged for decades. Sarah can no longer stand or walk, is partially paralysed from the waist down, and is now losing strength and fine motor movement in her upper body. My new friend never received acknowledgement or compensation for her injury. Decades later, people affected by healthcare injuries are still disadvantaged in their efforts to access compensation. 

While some injured patients have access to the NDIS, they still deserve acknowledgement of their injury and compensation for loss of income, pain and suffering. We shouldn’t have to pay with our pockets when we pay with our health.

We need your support: If you agree that injured patients in Australia need a fair go, please sign the petition.

More information on what else we want and why this matters

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Signatures: 16,627Next goal: 25,000
Support now