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SA cancer patients urged to get independent advice

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A South Australian lawyer has urged cancer patients who were given the wrong dose of a chemotherapy drug at two Adelaide hospitals to seek advice about their legal rights.

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Slater and Gordon personal injury lawyer Tim Downie said the leukaemia patients who were given half the recommended dose of Cytarabine between July last year and January this year at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centres may be able to seek compensation.

“Under SA law, hospitals owe patients a duty of care,” Mr Downie said.

“If a patient can prove that the duty of care owed was breached and that they suffered an injury as a result, then they are generally entitled to compensation.

“The amount of compensation varies depending on the circumstances of each case and can cover such things as pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of income.

“Legal action is not the first thing on most patients’ minds and often an injury may not be apparent immediately or may develop over time, so the law is generous in allowing patients three years in which to bring a claim. In some cases, an extension may be granted,” he said.

SA Health has confirmed the ten patients were given the wrong dose of Cytarabine because of a typographical error. One patient has reportedly had a relapse and has received a confidential payout.

“Health professionals are dedicated to helping the sick and injured and the last thing they would want is to harm anyone. But mistakes happen and the consequences can be severe for some patients,” Mr Downie said.

“These patients deserve to be properly compensated if they have been injured. If they are unsure about their rights, I urge them to seek independent legal advice.

“Thankfully, the problem was detected and the hospitals have now taken action to rectify the situation,” he said.