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GDL Law Notes GDL Tort Law Notes

Professional Clinical Negligence Notes

Updated Professional Clinical Negligence Notes

GDL Tort Law Notes

GDL Tort Law

Approximately 591 pages

A collection of the best GDL notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through applications from top students and carefully evaluating each on accuracy, formatting, logical structure, spelling/grammar, conciseness and "wow-factor". In short these are what we believe to be the strongest set of GDL notes available in the UK this year. This collection of GDL notes is fully updated for recent exams, also making them the most up-to-date GDL study materials ...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

  • Professional negligence means negligence within the professional sphere

  • Main difference to ordinary negligence is establishing whether a particular professional duty of care has been breached


  1. Make professionals more accountable

  2. Threat of litigation ensures that professions maintain high standards of practice

  3. Explanations when procedures go wrong

  4. Compensation to wronged parties

  5. Degree of retribution

Growth in professional negligence claims:

  • Change in relationship btw professional and client – particularly within clinical sphere – scepticism and a willingness to challenge professionals

    • E.g. childbirth particularly high – relatively dangerous and people have high expectations

  • Kennedy & GrubbPrinciples of Medical Law:

  1. Increased expectation of patients

  2. Development in drugs/science

  3. Increased knowledge of rights/law

  4. Increased assistance with claims

  5. Increased pressure on doctors

  6. Influence from abroad (US)

The Duty of Care

  • Professional duty : White v Jones

    • Duty owed by a solicitor to his/her clients – White v Jones; Ross v Caunters

  • Duty owed by a doctor to a patient: Cassidy v Minister of Health; R v Bateman – Lord Hewitt – ‘if he accepts the responsibility and undertakes the treatment and the patient submits to his discretion and treatment accordingly, he owes a duty to the patient to use diligence, care, knowledge, skill and caution in administering the treatment’

  • Don’t assume doctor always owes duty of care - e.g. where a doctor provides advice for occupational health report – no direct doctor-patient relationship and duty to prevent economic loss does not exist – Kapfunde v Abbey National plc (company doctor – duty was to the company)

  • Emergencies:

  • once responsibility is assumed and treatment has been undertaken, a duty of care is owed: Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington HMC

  • Duty to assist:

  • No duty to the world at large (Re F (Mental Patient: Sterilisation))

    • (Re F) also authority for the fact that doctors must act in the best interest of the patient: patient could not give consent to sterilisation but doctor not in breach when he went ahead as it was in the patient’s best interest

  • But: GP’s do owe duty of care to any patient on their list under statutory law

  • Also there is an obligation to assist under the GMC’s code of practice and there are legal disciplinary powers from parliament to enforce this

  • Duty to prevent patients from harming themselves and or others and the rights of third parties:

    • Clunis v Camden & Islington Health Authority: patient (C) had a mental disorder, was discharged from hospital and went on to murder somebody ; claim vs. the health authority for failing to provide appropriate care – but was not allowed to bring a claim arising from his own unlawful act

    • Goodwill v British Pregnancy Advisory Service: vasectomy patient told he didn’t need to use contraception – 3 years later a woman fell pregnant with his child and sued for the cost of bringing up the daughter, reduced income etc. – there was no duty of care – lack of proximity – generally no duty to a third party

  • Duty to write clearly:

  • Prendergast v Sam & Dee Ltd: doctor was found to be jointly liable alongside a pharmacist for the incorrect dispensing of a drug – doctor’s handwriting could not be deciphered (apportionment – pharmacist was more to blame on the facts)

  • Duty of Care on Hospitals/Health Authorities:

    • Duty to provide the services of medical professionals with sufficient skill and experience

    • Wilsher v Essex and Griffiths v Kent Ambulance Service: failure to provide doctors or services of a sufficient level of competence could be regarded as a breach of the duty of care

    • Bull v Devon AHA: catalogue of errors – mismanagement (not about lack of resources so within the jurisdiction of the court)

    • Johnstone v Bloomsbury Health Authority: staff were overworked – breach by the health authority

  • Duty of Care and the right to treatment:

    • Clinical decisions as to treatment should be for medical professionals and not the courts

    • Courts cannot interfere with policy issues – allocation of resources: these should be left to the executive (limited resources and infinite wants)

    • R v Cambridge Health Authority ex p Child B (a minor): local health authority declined to continue experimental treatment on minor dying of leukaemia – cost of treatment was 75,000 – chances of success were between 10% and 20%: Bingham MR – would be unreasonable to impose an absolute duty on health authority to provide every treatment

  • Wrongful life:

    • McFarlane v Tayside Health Board check lecture

Breach of duty of care

  • Reasonable man test (“The Activity test”) – Nettleship v Weston (‘learner driver’ case) : slightly modified

  • C must show that the clinical professional has taken a course of action which would not have been acceptable to any reasonable body of medical opinion (“The Bolam Test”)

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee

  • C required treatment for depression: 2 bodies of medical opinion as to the treatment:

    • McNair, J – ‘’a doctor is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a reasonable body of medical men skilled in that particular art’

    • Judgement approved by the Lords

  • Justification for Bolam by Lord Scarman in Maynard v West Midlands R.H.A – ‘there is seldom one answer exclusive to all others to problems of professional judgement’

  • Professionals are judged by the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have special skills (not the man on top of the Clapham omnibus): courts make reference to professional guidelines in order to determine standards – the HL refused to choose one professional opinion over another

Level of information as to the “risks” a patient should expect to be told about

  • Sidaway v Board of Governors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital: Surgeon failed to warn patient of small risk (1%) of damage to spine during operation; patient consented and operation was performed with...

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