Defamation imputations regarding medical treatment

Grygiel v Australian Broadcasting Corporation [2017] NSWSC 355 is an interlocutory decision in proceedings for defamation commenced by Dr John Grygiel against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The claim arose out of the broadcast of a segment on the 7.30 Report concerning the doctor’s alleged administration of what is described in the programme as an “under-dose” of treatment for cancer patients at St Vincent’s Hospital.

The defendant argued that two of the imputations specified by the plaintiff were not reasonably capable of arising, being that:

  • The plaintiff, a medical oncologist, by prescribing an under-dosage of chemotherapy for 70 cancer patients, had reduced their chance of surviving cancer.; and
  • The plaintiff’s incompetent prescribing of an incorrectly low dosage of chemotherapy for cancer patients was comparable in culpability to a bungle at two Adelaide hospitals where a number of patients were given an incorrect under-dosage of chemotherapy and one of them died.

The court held that a number of the features of the matter complained of combine to the result that the ordinary reasonable viewer could reasonably understand the matter complained of in the sense contended for by the plaintiff.

The imputations were therefore left for consideration by a jury.


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