Treatment following failed attempt to insert catheter line

East Metropolitan Health Service v Martin [2017] WASCA 7 is a Western Australian appellate decision addressing an asserted delay in treatment following failed attempt to insert catheter line to a patient’s right arm, whether that delay in treatment caused injury to right median nerve and whether corrective surgery could have been undertaken in time to prevent or minimise injury to the right median nerve. The trial judges decision was that of Martin v Minister for Health [2016] WADC 15.

The decision focused on the available evidence, though there was some discussion of the onus of proof borne by the claimant (which in Western Australia is found in section 5D of the Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA)). The court held that the claimant did establish causation by proving that the negligent delay in investigating his symptoms and treating the haematoma in his right arm led to the injury to his right median nerve.

The appeal failed save for one ground, which concerned the assessment of non-pecuniary loss (pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, loss of enjoyment of life, curtailment of expectation of life, and bodily or mental harm).

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