• Handling negligence claims

    Although many suggest that an allegation of medical negligence should not be taken personally, most doctors regard it as a direct assault on their personal and professional integrity. Medico-legal matters can place practitioners and their families under a great deal of stress. Australian research has found that having a current medico-legal matter is one of the major work stressors in doctors, followed by not taking a holiday in the previous year and working long hours [2]. It is nominated by many as one of the most major traumas in their life, whether or not the matter was ultimately resolved in their favour [1].

    Being caught up in a legal process over which you have little control and that you don’t understand can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and greater anxiety. One suggested strategy to overcome the distress associated with a medico-legal claim is for doctors to be educated about the medico-legal process and understand how the experience may affect their health, their work and their loved ones [2].

    In this section we provide information about the law and processes involved in a medical negligence claim.

    It is important that you look after yourself during this process. Our section on Dealing with the stress of a claim or complaint provides information and resources to support you.

    What is negligence?

    Here we outline the what a negligence claim is and the role of an expert opinion.

    Dealing with a negligence claim

    In this section we discuss the processes involved in dealing with a complaint.


    1. Nash L, et al. The psychological impact of complaints and negligence suits on doctors. Australasian Psychiatry 2004; 12(3): 278-281.
    2. Nash L, et al. Factors associated with psychiatric morbidity and hazardous alcohol use in Australian doctors. Medical Journal of Australia 2011; 194(2): 104.