Meningitis: Allegation of delay

Mules v Ferguson [2014] QSC 51 saw a claim alleging delay on the part of a general practitioner, in the referral of the patient to a specialist for treatment of a rare form of meningitis.

After a detailed consideration of the history, the court found at [268] that the patient’s symptoms did not warrant referral for urgent or specialist assessment. At [269] the court appears to have found a breach of duty in failing to perform a physical examination of the neck, but causation was not found in relation to that breach as the examination would not have detected anything.

The court at [276] held that the defendant acted in a way that was widely accepted by peers as competent. It is not entirely clear whether that finding related to the breach referred to in [269].

Dealing with causation regarding the prognosis had the patient been treated was addressed in more detail at [281] ff. At [293] the court found that had the patient been treated by a particular date, she would not have suffered her permanent injuries.

A notional damages assessment saw the court apply a 12% discount not only for future economic loss but for all future damages. The reasoning behind that approach is not evident in the decision.