Treatment injury

A treatment injury is an injury caused to someone seeking or receiving treatment from a registered health professional. If you have had a treatment injury, there are a number of things you can do.

What is a treatment injury?

A treatment injury is an injury caused to someone seeking or receiving treatment from a registered health professional. The injury is usually physical, where a part of your body has been injured. A treatment injury is caused by a mishap any time during your treatment process, such as through:

  • a missed or incorrect diagnosis
  • a decision that the treatment be provided or not provided
  • a failure to provide treatment at all or in a timely manner
  • obtaining or failing to obtain consent
  • adverse reaction to medications  
  • failure of equipment. 

The range of treatment injuries is very wide. Most injuries are easily remedied and are unlikely to have a lasting impact. But some injuries may be more serious and result in you not being able to do your regular activities or work. 

Where do treatment injuries happen?

Treatment injuries occur in many settings, such as in hospitals, general practice and rest homes. They are more likely in the hospital setting, probably because people admitted to hospital tend to be sicker, and treatment often includes the use of invasive devices and procedures that carry a higher risk of harm. Also, some facilities provide complex medical and surgical treatments such as cancer management, brain and spine surgery, heart surgery, treatment for severe burns and advanced services in medical care of newborn infants.

What can I do if I think I have a treatment injury?

If you think you have an injury caused by a treatment you have had, talk to your healthcare provider. They are there to make your care is as safe as possible. They can help you resolve the problem. If not, you can make a complaint. Also, if needed, your healthcare provider can lodge a claim on your behalf for further treatment. See claims below.

Image: 123RF


If you aren't happy with an experience with a health or disability service, you can follow these steps. You may not need to do all three.

Try to sort it out yourself 

Contact your healthcare provider and discuss your situation with them. If you don't feel comfortable speaking to the person who treated you, take up your issue with the manager or complaints officer. Read more about self advocacy

Get support from the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service

The Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service can give you information on your rights when using health or disability services and your options for making a complaint. You can contact a health and disability advocate by calling 0800 555 050 or see Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service. 

Complain to the Health and Disability Commissioner

You can make a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner about a regulated service (such as doctor, dentist, physiotherapist), an unregulated service (such as aromatherapist, counsellor, reflexologist) or a disability service (such as respite care or a support worker in your home). This might be be public or private, a person or organisation or voluntary or paid. The Health and Disability Commissioner might order the healthcare provider to apologise, review their systems and complete special training. Learn more about making a complaint.


In New Zealand everyone is covered by ACC if they've been injured in an accident. If the injury is as a result of getting treatment, ACC covers it if:

  • the treatment directly caused your injury
  • a registered health professional was treating you
  • it’s not a normal side effect of your treatment.

ACC also covers injuries caused by treatment for an injury they have already covered. Your healthcare provider can lodge a claim on your behalf if they think you have a treatment injury. There are instances where treatment injuries may not be covered, eg, when an injury is an ordinary consequence of a treatment. For information specific to your situation, talk to your healthcare provider. Learn more about lodging a treatment injury claim.

Learn more

Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service 
Health and Disability Commissioner 


  1. Supporting treatment safety ACC, NZ, 2019
  2. Health and disability service Consumer Protection, MBIE, NZ
  3. What we cover ACC, NZ, 2019
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team . Last reviewed: 17 Oct 2019