Thanks to the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s weekly newsletter to members, for bring this recent case to my attention:

Australian Associated Motor Insurers Ltd v Motor Accidents Authority of NSW [2010] NSWSC 833 (30 July 2010), is a recent case in which the NSW Court of Appeal per Barr AJ overturned a damages claim of more than $335,000 awarded to a woman injured in a traffic accident because he found that a claims assessor had used Wikipedia to determine that she had developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  He also found that such diagnosis was not supported by medical opinion.

Although obviously a motor vehicle accident claim, this seemed to me worth mentioning in the med neg context, given the ever growing resources online for consumers/patients (+ it seems even judicial officers!) to learn more about health concerns.

While I for one use this phenomenal resource ever single day in the course of my work (and recently, in particular, the absolutely amazing array of youtube videos available of various medical procedures and conditions), it is always worth bearing in mind that it is a supplement for first hand expert medical advice + not its replacement.

I am reasonably frequently reminded of this when reviewing expert reports from medical specialists concerning claims we are investigating, who reasonably commonly conclude:

  • the issue as to the medical care my client and I were concerned about is a red herring or readily explainable, and not the result of any lack of care…
  • another issue we had not identified is present, the result of sub-standard care + the crux of why the poor outcome eventuated.