“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers”

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 29 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1090

A recent judgment in the New South Wales supreme court has added substantially to Australian doctors' fears that the medicolegal climate here may be going the way of America's. Last month Acting Justice Spender awarded 36 year old Cecily Burnett $A300000 after she sued her general practitioner, Dr Archie Kalokerinos, for negligence over something that most doctors think he had little control over.

Ms Burnett had consulted Dr Kalokerinos, Bingara village's only GP, with heavy vaginal bleeding in 1991. He referred her to a specialist in Tamworth, two hours drive away, and personally phoned to make the appointment (referrals to specialists in Australia are frequently handed to patients to make their own arrangements). She claimed that she told him emphatically that, because of child care problems and not being able to afford either petrol or overnight accommodation, she wanted a referral to a specialist in …

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