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Clinical negligence and PI

Dr Jock Mackenzie on causation and general practitioners, and Vijay Ganapathy on success fees, ex turpi causa and untraced drivers

3 August 2007

Clinical negligence

In Gouldsmith v Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust [2007] EWCA Civ 397, the Court of Appeal held that the judge had erred in his application of the Bolitho principle on causation.

The case examined what would and should have happened following referral of the claimant to a specialist, tertiary, hospital because of an arterial stenosis just beyond the origin of the claimant’s left subclavian artery, the failure to refer having been considered by the judge to be in breach. The judge asked the question whether every specialist exercising the proper standard of care would have operated, and answered it in the negative; therefore, the judge concluded that the ongoing damage of amputation of a thumb and two fingers would not have been avoided and the Trust could not be held responsible for such injuries.

The appeal court held that there should be a two-step approach to causation. The correct approac...

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