Compo after hospital blunder leaves woman brain damaged
A SURGICAL blunder at Royal Darwin Hospital three years ago robbed Michelle Peters of her career as a chef, her independence, and the life she had planned for herself.
Mrs Peters, who now lives in Cairns, was left brain damaged in 2014 by a routine procedure to remove her adrenal gland.
Carbon dioxide was pumped through her liver and into her bloodstream. She spent almost two days in a coma and has been in therapy ever since.
She has only now reached a confidential settlement with the hospital to compensate her in some way for the loss she has experienced.
Her husband Greg had to immediately give up his own career to become Mrs Peters' full-time carer.
He said the payout would help pay for him to stay home, and for an exercise physiologist to work with his wife to try to restore some of her motor skills.
"Life's not what it used to be but we're at a point now where we can put everything behind us," he said. "After nearly four years of therapy, she is starting to improve, but she'll never be the same."
The couple had been married just four years when the error occurred. Both widowed, they were enjoying a second shot at life when Mrs Peters' surgery went wrong.
The blunder meant they had to leave pricey Darwin.
"We moved to Tasmania for financial reasons. Our two pensions together didn't even cover the rent in Darwin," Mr Peters said.
But with Mrs Peters unable to deal with the cold, they've had to relocate again to Queensland where they have started over. Mrs Peters said the settlement had been a long time coming.
"I can't drive anymore. I've lost any kind of independence," she said.
"But life must go on, no matter what."
The Department of Health paid out $5.4 million in compensation payments to patients last financial year - more than five times what was paid out the previous year.
According to figures in the Health Department's annual report, $6.63 million was spent on legal expenses, a massive increase on the $2.67 million spent in 2014-15. Just $1.09 million was spent on payouts to patients and staff in 2014-15.