Failure to follow up – treatment of ear infection

Janet Harris v Sydney Local Health District [2014] NSWDC 21 required consideration of allegations of negligence in respect of treatment the plaintiff received at the Concord Hospital to her right ear.

The claim succeeded in part, in that there was a deviation from the standard of care required of the hospital to advise the plaintiff of the need to return to the ENT clinic for removal of an ear wick, and to warn her of the adverse consequences if she failed to do so.

The defendant raised a defence pursuant to s 5O of the CLA without setting out the material facts on which it relied. In relation to those findings, the defence was not made out, particularly in view of the fact that the defendant called no evidence in respect of that issue.

Curiously, the plaintiff tendered no medical evidence in respect of her claim for damages. Nevertheless an award was made for non-economic loss. However the court did not accept that the plaintiff’s relapse into heroin use, following her discharge from the hospital and her subsequent use of heroin was caused by any negligence of the defendant.