Health Alert (Australia) October 17, 2016

In This Issue:

- Judgments; Legislation; and Reports.

- Excerpts from Judgments:

New South Wales 13 October 2016 - Coote v Kelly; Northam v Kelly [2016] NSWSC 1447 -

On 23 May 2012, Mr Coote died from metastatic acral lentiginous melanoma. The melanoma was first diagnosed on 16 March 2011 following a biopsy taken by a Dr Hiddins. Dr Hiddins had been consulted by Mr Coote since January 2011 for what various doctors, including the defendant Dr Kelly, believed to be a plantar wart on his left foot. Prior to his death, Mr Coote commenced proceedings against Dr Kelly for failing to diagnose the melanoma during consults throughout 2009 and 2010. The court ordered judgment for Dr Kelly in that proceeding. This is an appeal of that decision brought by the wife and executor of Mr Coote's estate, Ms Coote.

The court in this appeal gave regard not only to evidence given during these proceedings, but also to the evidence at the first trial which included statements of the deceased. The evidence on breach of duty pertained to the description of the lesion. In regards to causation, the defendant submitted that, even if he breached his duty of care in not properly diagnosing the lesion, the plaintiff's loss of the chance of a better outcome was not sufficient to establish liability for negligence.

The court found that the defendant acted in a manner that was widely accepted by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice. The court ordered judgment for the defendant.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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