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Cambridge Law Journal
Trumping Bolam: a critical legal analysis of Bolitho's "gloss"
Subject: Negligence. Other related subjects: Health. Personal injury
Keywords: Bolam test; Causation; Clinical negligence; Patients' rights; Professional opinion
THE Bolam test of breach - that classic and well-known statement of the law, with its genesis being adefendant's reliance upon a body of responsible peer professional opinion - is the “universal professional (and, in some contexts, is qualified, however, by theapplied, courtesy of the House of Lords' 1997 decision in Bolitho v. City andHackney H.A. By virtue of that decision, peer professional opinion which purportedly representsevidence of responsible medical practice can be departed from, if that opinion is determined by thecourt to be “not capable of withstanding logical analysis”, or is otherwise “unreasonable” or As has been judicially pointed out, Bolitho turned Bolam on its axis, in that the court, and not the
medical profession, became the final arbiter of medical however, it has become
a challenging legal question as to what features particularly characterise a peer professional opinion
as one that is “illogical”, “irresponsible”, and “indefensible”. Such labels are difficult to understand or
to apply, unless fleshed out with content. As other academic commentary has rightly noted, although
“lower courts are taking notice of [Bolitho ], it is *C.L.J. 610 how they apply it that may be causing the
legal analysis of Bolitho's gloss is the focus of this article.
Section II of the article sets the context, by briefly discussing the reasons that Bolitho's qualificationupon Bolam was judicially considered to be necessary insofar as medical diagnosis and treatment bya healthcare professional are of inherent risks is treated differently at and does not form the subject of discussion in this article), and by examining some matters which donot comprise Bolitho factors in English law. Then, in light of a close analysis of post- Bolitho case law,Section III elucidates and categorises the factors that have indicated, expressly or impliedly, that therequisite logical basis for a defendant doctor's expert medical opinion was absent. The results of thatanalytical review are surprising in two respects. For one thing, the number of cases in which Bolitho'sgloss has been invoked (in this article, over 20 such decisions are discussed) is not quite so low as tobe labelled “rare”; and for another, the scenarios in which courts have considered Bolam evidence tobe lacking logical analysis, whilst sufficiently repetitive to comprise recognisable categories, havebeen reasonably varied too. Section IV concludes.
It is suggested that a close consideration of the Bolam/Bolitho framework, of the type undertaken in
this article, is timely and important for three reasons. First, “labels” may be signposts for lawyers, but
without proper delineation, they are not particularly illuminating (on that point, Lord Bridge's reference
to the “convenient labels” of proximity and fairness, in the context of proving a duty of care, also
spring to oft-cited labels actually apply in factual situations is crucial for legal clarity,
particularly where these labels have been in place now for over a decade, allowing a reasonable body
of jurisprudence to develop on the subject. Certainly, Bolitho itself does not give much guidance, and
no case since has undertaken that analytical exercise either. Secondly, categorisation of the Bolitho
factors is important to prevent the impression that courts may simply prefer the patient's expert to the
doctor's (an approach which is stringently *C.L.J. 611 where
some unexpressed Bolitho factor has seemingly been responsible for that preference. In several
cases since Bolitho was handed down, that case has not been explicitly referred to, but the relevant
Bolam evidence has been discounted, for reasons which suggest that the doctor's expert opinion was
not perceived to be defensible. In that regard, unarticulated Bolitho factors do not enhance the
transparency of the law. Thirdly, given the reminders issued by the Court of are
to be given for a court's stating that the one side's expert opinion should not be followed, where a
conflict in the expert opinion exists, an articulation of the Bolitho factors has a much-heightenedimportance for courts too.
The law must be much clearer in delineating the correct ambit of the Bolam/Bolitho framework than ispresently the case. In any dispute involving clinical professional judgment to which Bolam properlyapplies, and in which the court nevertheless prefers the patient's expert evidence to that of thedoctor's, there must be a clear articulation as to why that was permissible, if the framework governingmedical breach is to retain cogency and purpose of this article tocontribute to that articulation.
A. The Perceived “Deficiencies” of Bolam
To reiterate, if a accused of negligence presents expert opinion to the effect that he
“has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men
skilled in that particular will absolve the doctor of negligence. Even though it is possible
that, upon a close reading of Bolam, McNair J. *C.L.J. 612 himself did not intend the doctor's expert's
evidence to be conclusive of the question of how it came to be interpreted -
and, on that basis, it was judicially criticised on several counts.
It was said to be “over protective and deferential” toward potential to be satisfied“by the production of a dubious expert whose professional views existed at the fringe of medicalthat the medical profession was “above the law”, that theBolam test deprived courts of the opportunity of “precipitating changes where required in professionalcourts were being “dictated to” rather than exercising their was said that “professions may adopt unreasonable practices. Practices may develop inprofessions… not because they serve the interest of the clients, but because they protect theinterests or convenience of members of the there was a view thatBolam did not necessarily protect the community against unsafe medical practices, and that morejudicial safeguards for the public were to the increasingly “rights-basedsociety” to dismiss patients' concerns as obviously as the Bolam test contended that a judicial scrutiny of medical expert opinion was no different from the type of carefulanalysis that a judge must make in respect of other professional evidence, be it “a judgment by anaccountant, lawyer, underwriter or other professional” - if the court was the final arbiter in respect ofthese professionals, then so too should it be with the *C.L.J. 613
In Bolitho v. City and Hackney H.A. these numerous concerns were explicitly addressed. Lord Browne-Wilkinson (with whom the other members of the House agreed) stated that: in cases of diagnosis and treatment there are cases where, despite a body of professional opinionsanctioning the defendant's conduct, the defendant can properly be held liable for negligence … thatis because, in some cases, it cannot be demonstrated to the judge's satisfaction that the body ofopinion relied upon is reasonable or responsible. In the vast majority of cases the fact thatdistinguished experts in the field are of a particular opinion will demonstrate the reasonableness ofthat opinion. In particular, where there are questions of assessment of the relative risks and benefitsof adopting a particular medical practice, a reasonable view necessarily presupposes that the relativerisks and benefits have been weighed by the experts informing their opinions. But if, in a rare case, itcan be demonstrated that the professional opinion is not capable of withstanding logical analysis, thejudge is entitled to hold that the body of opinion is not reasonable As a result of this pronouncement, a two-step procedure came to be recognised in English law asbeing necessary to determine the question of alleged medical breach: first, whether the doctor actedin accordance with a practice accepted as proper for an ordinarily competent doctor by a responsiblebody of medical opinion; and secondly, if “yes”, whether the practice survived Bolitho judicial scrutinyas being “responsible” or “logical”. That two-step analysis was explicitly confirmed as being theappropriate one, for example, in French v. Thames Valley Strategic H.A. and has been describedin other English medical cases, too, as been said to have “considerable force” in the non-medical professional Perhaps most importantly, where two schools of Bolam -reasonable thought have been put forwardas explanations of what occurred during the course of medical diagnosis or treatment, courts have not *C.L.J. 614 been prepared (and nor have they regarded themselves as permitted) to undertake a
third stage, viz, a superiority is briefly explored in the following section.
B. Other Qualifications upon Bolam: When a Patient's Expert Opinion can be
In one recent medical negligence case, Mackay J. candidly admitted that the task of applying thetwo-step Bolam /Bolitho framework can be very difficult for a trial judge: “[a]though the test for clinicalnegligence is well established, it is easy after five days spent listening to extensive evidence, in whichsuch phrases as competent care or sub-standard care are freely used, to forget the test to be appliedin these cases and to be drawn into the error of deciding which side has presented the better case fora given course Nevertheless, as the House of Lords has frequently the court to venture into a
consideration of two contrary bodies of opinion and to decide a case on the basis of which, of the
patient's and the doctor's expert medical opinion, it prefers. If the scenario is one that involves clinical
to which the Bolam test applies, and if the doctor does produce evidence that his practice
was supported by such opinion, then, in the words of Sedley L.J., “the judge or jury have to accept the
opinion of a body of responsible practitioners, unless it is unreasonable [in the Bolam applies, the mere fact of differences in expert opinion cannot lead to a rejection of Bolam
evidence, as Bolam itself acknowledged (“a man is not negligent, if he is acting in accordance with
such a practice, merely because there is a *C.L.J. 615 body of opinion who would take a contrary
the Bolitho test is only to be applied to those circumstances in which a body of medical
opinion “cannot be logically supported
This point continues to resonate in medico-legal jurisprudence. In a recent 2010 of Appeal overturned a finding of negligence against a GP, on the basis that the trial judge had“steer[ed] a course between the two experts”, and had “impose[d] his own opinion, regardless of thepractice of the medical where the expert opinion called on behalf ofthe defendant GP could not be faulted under the Bolitho test. Leveson L.J. remarked that the trialjudge “comes nowhere close to concluding that the view expressed by [the GP's expert] was not aview held by an expert in the field, still less that it was one that was not capable of withstandinglogical analysis (as required by the test in Bolitho )”, and that it must follow that “unless the judgeconcluded that [the GP's expert's] genuinely held view could not withstand logical analysis and wasthus unreasonable, [the patient] could not no grounds for invoking Bolitho inthis case, and preferring the patient's expert opinion (i.e. , that the patient should have been referredfor further investigations on a routine basis, given her repeated complaints of a breast lump) was nota course that was available.
It is worth reiterating at the outset that, apart from Bolitho's operation, there are three other scenariosin which Bolam evidence will not absolve a of these, it is not a question of merelydetermining whether there was a respectable body of medical opinion to support the doctor's(non-negligent) version of events. Rather, it is for the court to weigh up the evidence on both sides,and it may properly prefer the evidence of the patient's expert witness to that of the doctor's.
In the first of these scenarios, the Bolam test only applies to matters of clinical or professional
judgment, or to tasks that require the exercise of special skill and knowledge. Bolam itself refers to a
doctor acting in “a situation which involves the issue of some special skill or competence in
Penney v. East Kent H.A. , the Court of Appeal reiterated that the defendant cytoscreeners there
“were exercising skill and judgment in determining what report they should make and, in that respect,
the Bolam test was judgment on the part of a defendant doctor
is frequently manifested - from *C.L.J. 616 providing contraceptive what physical
precautions ought to be taken to prevent a suicidal patient from whether to carry out a further diagnostic procedure upon an already unwell whether to intervene to deliver a distressed baby via a forceps 2010
case of Ministry of Justice v. Carter also concerned the exercise of the GP's clinical judgment (i.e. ,
whether a female prisoner ought to have been referred to a breast clinic, following her complaint of a
lump in her right breast), and hence (said the Court of attracted the operation of
the Bolam /Bolitho framework - albeit that this framework had been applied incorrectly by the trial
judge. Obversely, Lloyd L.J. commented in Gold v. Haringey H.A. that if the doctor's impugned
conduct required no clinical judgment or special skill to be applied, then he “could see an argument
that the Bolam test should not apply” at qualification upon Bolam's application has since
been applied by the Court of Appeal in the non-medical emphasised in academic
medico-legal subject of a notable special leave application to the House
of Lords in a medical negligence case relatively however, some courts have been willing to invoke a Bolam assessment in medical scenarios where
the judgment under challenge did not appear to be particularly clinical at all - involving matters such
as hospital staffing of questions asked during a medical what
communications should occur between nursing and medical staff when discharging a other courts have been frustratingly unclear about the issue, by *C.L.J. 617 stating that the situation
was probably one that did not attract Bolam's operation - but then proceeding to apply the
Bolam/Bolitho framework, just
As a second qualification, the Bolam test only pertains to questions requiring expert opinion, and notto disputes about mere questions of is another issue upon which courts have occasionallystruggled to articulate the dividing line - for example, questions of fact have included: whether or not acervical smear slide showed a significant number of abnormal (pre-cancerous) whether apatient was displaying sufficient symptoms of infection such that the defendant registrar should haveconsidered treatment by antibiotics earlier than he Steele points out, the more willing thatcourts are to classify issues as questions of fact rather than of opinion, the less scope there is forBolam In the third of the exceptional scenarios, Bolam does not apply where the doctor's expert opinion doesnot represent the views of a responsible body of doctors nor a recognised practice within the medical Hence, the Bolam test is sense that it applies well beyond the medical(psychiatric treatment) setting in which it was first articulated in McNair J.'s direction to the jury.
However, it is certainly not a universal test of medical breach, nor is its ambit of applicationparticularly straightforward in some medical mishaps. It is the qualification which Bolitho places uponBolam evidence, however, which is the most legally difficult of them all.
C. Some Preliminary Comments about Bolitho's Gloss
The Bolitho test has been intriguing in a number of respects. For one thing, English courts have
practically never relied upon precedent to *C.L.J. 618 identify a Bolitho -type situation. Cases have
been determined very much on a singular, fact-by-fact, basis. Ancillary to that, perhaps, more than a
decade after Bolitho was handed down, there has been no judicial of the
type of close analytical exercise - of identifying “Bolitho factors” - that follows in Section III. It is also
striking that some courts have preferred a patient's expert testimony, and have been critical of that
provided by the defendant doctor's expert, but have explained their preference in circumstances
where Bolitho was not referred to at all. In some of these cases, however, Bolitho has clearly been
“the phantom in the courtroom”. Notwithstanding some academic that
the lack of judicial reference to Bolitho meant that “courts might not regard Bolitho as having made a
change of any great significance”, it is contended by this author that Bolitho has had a tangible impact
on medical jurisprudence, and that the unexpressed instances of its application unfortunately conceal
the effect of the “brake” which it is applying to Bolam.
Another intriguing aspect of Bolitho is that its operation is generally regarded as a “rare” only to apply in exceptional circumstances where “the evidence shows that a lacuna in professionalpractice been said that peer professional opinion “shouldnot lightly be set that it would have to display a degree of “ Wednesburyunreasonableness” in order for Bolitho to be as stated in the Introduction, theBolitho test, while not commonly trumping Bolam, has certainly changed the outcome of medicalnegligence lawsuits in more cases than perhaps the label of “rarity” would suggest.
*C.L.J. 619 Moreover, the Bolitho test introduced a notable asymmetry into the litigious challenges
facing the adversely-affected patient and the accused doctor. As Tugendhat J. remarked in Zarb v.
Odetoyinbo (a case in which Mrs Zarb unsuccessfully sued her GP for failing to refer her to an
orthopaedic surgeon before she developed the rare condition of causa equina syndrome), suppose
that both experts claim that the other side's expert testimony is indefensible and illogical. The doctor's
expert only has to persuade the court that his views are capable of withstanding logical analysis, but
he does not have to satisfy the court that the views of the patient's expert are not capable of
withstanding logical analysis. Obversely, however, the patient's expert has to do both, if Bolitho is to
It is also worth debunking two matters that are not Bolitho factors. First, in Bolitho, LordBrowne-Wilkinson's actual terminology was that the doctor's expert medical testimony may berejected as being “unreasonable”. That term, however, must be construed as meaning somethingother than “merits-based” - for otherwise, a superiority analysis of the merits of conflicting expertopinion would be implicitly condoned. In Khoo v. Gunapathy d/o Muniandy, the Singapore Court ofAppeal was particularly alive to this issue, and remarked that the Bolitho exception must be narrowlyconstrued, if the various House of Lords' statements on the matter were to be honoured: Interpreted liberally, Bolitho could unwittingly herald invasive inquiry into the merits of medicalopinion. For if “defensible” were to be given a meaning akin to “reasonable”, the Bolam test wouldonly be honoured in lip service. A doctor would then be liable when his view, as represented by thedefence experts, was found by the court to be unreasonable. We do not think this was the intention ofHouse of Lords in Bolitho. In fact, there was an earlier suggestion by the English Court of Appeal, in Joyce v. Wandsworth H.A. that a comparative assessment of reasonableness by the trial judge was permitted (because the
Court of Appeal described the judge's role in these terms: “[there is no negligence] [p]rovided that
clinical practice stood up to analysis and was not unreasonable in the light of the state of the medical
knowledge at the as discussed clearly not the way *C.L.J. 620 in
which Bolitho has been applied since. Something more than a superiority-of-merits assessment is
required, to displace the doctor's Bolam evidence.
Secondly, a body of responsible medical opinion which endorses the defendant doctor's conduct maybe in the sufficient to satisfy the Bolam test. Merely being a minority view ofaccepted medical practice does not, of itself, render that view “illogical” or “irrational” in the Bolithosense.
A. The Bolitho Factors
A detailed scrutiny and analysis of the post-Bolitho case law indicates that seven (7) differentscenarios have attracted judicial consideration in English law, as to whether the peer opinion adducedby the defendant doctor was illogical, indefensible, etc. Some of these are subject to notableexceptions and caveats, however. Dealing with each in turn: 1. The peer professional opinion has overlooked that a “clear precaution” to avoid the
adverse outcome for the patient was available
If the risk of an adverse outcome for the patient could have been easily and inexpensively avoided byan alternative course of medical treatment or diagnosis, then the doctor's conduct will be held to benegligent, even if a body of medical opinion did endorse that conduct.
To constitute a clear precaution, this Bolitho factor contemplates that the precaution should havebeen obvious as a matter of lay common sense, invoking no particular medical knowledge. In Frenchv. Thames Valley Strategic H.A. Beatson J. remarked that Bolitho's gloss was more likely to beactivated “where a case does not involve difficult or uncertain questions of medical treatment orcomplex, scientific or highly technical matters, but turns on failure to take a simple precaution theneed for which is obvious to the ordinary person considering the matter ”.
That point had already been demonstrated pre-Bolitho. In the 1968 case of Hucks v. Cole, the
defendant GP (with a diploma in obstetrics) *C.L.J. 621 prescribed a five-day course of tetracycline
antibiotics for a new mother, to treat various sores and yellow spots on her fingers and toes, but
stopped the treatment when the sores appeared to be improving - notwithstanding that the defendant
knew that the septic spots contained streptococcal infection, capable of leading to puerperal fever.
The following day, the patient did indeed contract puerperal fever. Negligence was found, on the
basis that penicillin ought to have been prescribed. A number of distinguished doctors with obstetric
experience gave evidence that they would have followed the GP's practice and would not, in the
circumstances, have treated the mother with penicillin (which was capable of killing streptococcal
infection). However, Sachs L.J., writing for the Court of Appeal, considered that the GP had not taken
“every precaution” to prevent the outbreak of puerperal fever, given the advances in medical science
which penicillin represented at the time, and that the views of the GP's expert witness showed “a
residual adherence to out-of-date ideas” which “on examination do not really stand up to The case may have been pre-Bolitho, but the philosophy was very much Bolitho Post-Bolitho, several examples of peer professional opinion understating a “clear precaution” have
occurred - where that missed precaution amounted to, say, failing to consult with more experienced
specialists about a patient's ask a series of leading questions, over the
telephone, of a mother whose child was to maintain “good lines of communication”
between hospital and cytogenetic laboratory re the genetic testing of a to assign
a negative status to slides unless the “absolute confidence” threshold could be v.
Havering Hospitals N.H.S. Trust, *C.L.J. 622
the “clear precaution” was as simple as a more rigorously-arranged series of medical appointments for the patient. The defendant specialist physicianarranged for an 8-week gap between two consultations for a patient who had dangerously high anduncontrolled blood pressure (and who then suffered a major disabling stroke). That practice of suchwidely-spaced appointments was held to be negligent, in that it had failed to take into sufficientaccount matters such as the patient's unstable and very high blood pressure, “suspicions” that thepatient was not diligently taking his prescribed medication, and that the patient was a relatively youngman who had a wife and a dependent family, and for whom a disabling stroke would be devastating(a social, rather than a medical, consideration, but one which a reasonable physician ought to havetaken into account, said the court). A body of expert medical opinion had supported the conduct of thephysician as being acceptable medical practice, but that opinion was explicitly rejected under Bolitho. There is an important caveat to this factor, however. Suppose that there was a precaution open to thedefendant doctor, but the patient's and the doctor's experts differ as to how risky that precautionwould have been - precedent then suggests that the court will be unwilling to interfere with thedoctor's judgment. In that event, there will be no “ clear precaution”, for both sets of peer opinionwithstand logical analysis. For one set of peer opinion, the risk of an adverse outcome should havebeen prevented by taking the precaution. For the other body of peer opinion, that precaution mayhave posed an unacceptable risk. This is merely a different weighing of risk.
Hence, in Macey v. Warwickshire H.A. where a baby was brain-damaged as a result of his
negligently-handled birth, and where it was alleged that he ought to have been intubated and
ventilated when his respiratory difficulties were noticed, there was a breach for the delay of 45
minutes before medical attention was drawn to his respiratory distress, but there was no breach in
failing to intubate and ventilate either before or during his transfer by ambulance to a special baby
care unit at a specialist maternity hospital. The obstetrician's peer professional opinion said that
intubation would have been a risky and potentially dangerous procedure, particularly during an
ambulance journey of some 20 minutes, whilst the patient's peer professional opinion was that it
would have been unreasonable not to intubate in these circumstances. The court concluded that
“[b]oth points of view are logical and rational; they differ because of different views of the balance of
risks *C.L.J. 623 one way and the the obstetrician's expert opinion prevailed on
that point. In the same vein, in the aforementioned French decision differences in
medical opinion occurred as to how to safely handle the pre-eclampsia from which the patient's
mother was suffering. The area was complicated and technical, contemporary literature advised that
handling pre-eclampsia was “a matter of opinion and judgment, with few facts or absolute guidelines”,
and another source considered that there was “probably no disorder in which the pathological findings
are so controversial and contradictory”. These matters meant that the scenario definitely did not fall
within the “simple precaution” category. The Bolam evidence prevailed, and the brain-damaged
patient failed to prove any breach of duty. More recently still, Bolitho was not applied in a where the depressed patient took unescorted leave from a psychiatric facility and threw herself in
front of a train at Northwick Park tube station. Given that “[p]sychiatry - perhaps more than any other
branch of medicine - is not an exact science”, and that psychiatrists have to make “difficult decisions”
about the management, treatment and rehabilitation of patients suffering from a range of mental
illnesses and distress, the court expressly rejected an invitation by the claimant to invoke Bolitho, and
her claim in
Thus, to summarise: if the accused doctor's peer professional opinion has overlooked that a “clearprecaution” to avoid the adverse outcome was available, Bolitho will be invoked - but that outcome isunlikely to occur, to the patient's advantage, if the medical conduct in question involved a high level ofcomplexity and/or uncertainty.
2. A question of resources and conflicts of duty
Whether the body of medical opinion is logical and rational will depend, in part, upon the reality that doctors owe co-existing duties to other patients, and that hospitals owe co-existing duties to all theiremployees. Scarcity of resources requires that these conflicting interests are balanced. Where thistension impacts directly upon an adverse outcome for the patient, then no matter how illogical themedical practice may appear on its face, successful reliance by the patient on the Bolitho test isunlikely.
In Garcia v. St Mary's N.H.S. Trust, the court considered whether Bolitho should be applied,
notwithstanding that medical opinion called by both sides of the litigation attested that the medical
conduct in the *C.L.J. 624 circumstances was reasonable and defensible. The conduct in this case
concerned timing and on-call procedures. Mr Garcia (G) underwent heart by-pass surgery, which was
completed by 7.00 pm. At 11:53 pm, G coughed to clear secretions, at which point he suddenly lost
consciousness, having suffered an acute post-operative bleed into the chest area, a recognised
complication to this type of surgery. A “crash call” was placed at 11:54 pm. The anaesthetic team
arrived at 11:56 pm. At 11:58 pm, the on-call specialist cardiothoracic registrar was notified at his
home. He arrived in the recovery room at 00.25 am. He re-opened the chest at 00:30, and by 00:40
am the bleeding was under control. During that period, and as a result of the haemorrhage, there was
hypotension and hypoperfusion of the brain, and G was left brain-damaged. The neurological experts
agreed that the length and severity of the hypotension/hypoperfusion determined the neurological
outcome, and that, at 15 minutes, there would be no or only slight injury; at 20 minutes, there would
probably be significant neurological damage; and that, at 30 minutes or longer, there would be severe
neurological damage, as in this case. Hence, G argued that, unless there was an on-call registrar
staying at the hospital overnight to deal with such emergencies, then the inevitable delay whilst the
registrar made his way to the hospital condemned any patient in his position to severe and
irreversible brain damage, and that this was an instance in which the court should invoke the Bolitho
principle and declare the body of medical opinion to be the court recognised
that it was a potential Bolitho that the body of peer medical opinion was
defensible. True it was that to have a surgical registrar on site was likely to have cut the time between
crash call and control of the bleeding by almost even had that been the case:
[it] does not necessarily mean he would be available for Mr Garcia. He might be engaged withanother patient in the fast track. He might be engaged with a medical emergency. If an accident cameinto Accident and Emergency requiring the care of a chest surgeon he might be required for that.
Having the surgeon on site does not necessarily signify that he would be available for Mr Garcia. … Ibear in mind that the Trust, operated under the provisions of the National Health Service, has a dutyto Mr Garcia to take reasonable care of him and that that duty co-exists together with the duty whichis owed to other patients, and also the duty as employers to its *C.L.J. 625 All in all, the practice of having no specialist registrar on site was a defensible position,
“conform[ing] to that which is reasonable, catering for all to whom the duties are
Other case law also confirms that where the accused doctor has to balance the risks and benefits oftreatment to persons other than the directly-injured patient - scenarios involving mother andbrain-damaged between various mothers in hospital to give court will bereluctant to interfere and overturn the doctor's expert medical opinion (that the practice followed bythe doctor was defensible) on Bolitho grounds.
3. Failure to weigh the comparative risks and benefits of the chosen course of
It is plain from Lord Browne-Wilkinson's judgment in Bolitho itself that the principal way in which thedefendant doctor's peer medical opinion will be rejected is where that peer opinion failed to take intoaccount the risks and benefits of the doctor's conduct and of the conduct which the patient allegesought to have been practised: in cases involving, as they so often do, the weighing of risks against benefits, the judge beforeaccepting a body of opinion as being responsible, reasonable or respectable, will need to be satisfiedthat, in forming their views, the experts have directed their minds to the question of comparative risksand benefits and have reached a defensible conclusion on the Although related to scenario 1. above, this factor entails a more explicit attention to whether the
doctor's expert testimony properly assessed the comparative risks/benefits. As Cranston J. noted in
Birch v. University College London Hospital N.H.S. Foundation Trust, the fact *C.L.J. 626 that two
bodies of medical opinion weigh benefits and risks differently does not impute negligence - but if there
is a failure to weigh those risks and benefits by the experts who are sanctioning the doctor's conduct,that will invoke Bolitho's Court of Appeal put it like this: it is the process,rather than the result, that brings down the expert evidence, if that expert has not considered andweighed all the countervailing factors relevant to A significant number of decisions now demonstrate this Bolitho factor in inKingsberry v. Greater Manchester Strategic H.A. where a cardiotocograph (CTG) indicated the presence of complicated tachycardia and foetal distress, the proper risk/benefit analysisindicated that a trial of forceps should have been carried out in theatre to deliver a baby (who wasultimately severelybrain damaged), rather than attempting to deliver the baby by manual rotation andforceps delivery. This was notwithstanding that peer professional opinion was given, on behalf of thedefendant obstetrician, that there was a practice, in 1985, not to perform a trial of forceps in thesecircumstances. That expert opinion did not carry the day: “it does not withstand *C.L.J. 627
This Bolitho factor has an important caveat, however. Typically, the peer opinion adduced by the patient, as to what the doctor ought to have done according to accepted medicalpractice, seeks to advocate a course of action that would have minimised or eliminated the riskaltogether. It is not, however, the standard of perfection, but of reasonableness, which is required bylaw. Hence, if the patient's argument is that the doctor should have done x, with very small to nil riskto the patient, but such practice would lead to unworkable systems of medical practice, then that isnot a Bolitho scenario. It will not be irrational or illogical for the doctor to have declined to practisewhat the patient advocated, because the reasonable exercise of clinical judgment does not requirereducing risk to zero or close to it. In Garcia's the risk of post-operative bleedinginto the chest area following heart by-pass surgery was 1 in 1,000. Was it worth having a specialistregistrar on site for such an event, one who could arrive in the operating theatre much more quicklythan an on-call but offsite registrar could manage? The court held not, because “[s]ystems andresources obviously have to be designed in order to accommodate what is reasonably to be foreseen,always bearing in mind that the unexpected sometimes occurs, and, therefore, should come withinthe range of the foreseeable.” It followed that “the whole system obviously has to be framed to dealwith that which is reasonably foreseeable … [and not] framed to deal with the possibility that a rareoccurrence will same reasons, some courts have held that the situationsurrounding a difficult birth, leading to catastrophic injuries to the newborn, may have beenfar-from-perfect, but nevertheless peer support for the obstetricians' conduct could not be attacked ona It is also important to appreciate that there is a subtle difference between what Bolam expects of the
defendant doctor, and what Bolitho expects of the expert “responsible body of medical opinion”.
Certainly, the expert opinion will not be sanctioned as being responsible and defensible unless that
opinion has weighed the comparative risks and benefits of the doctor's conduct and what alternatives
may have been available to avoid the adverse medical outcome. By contrast, however, it is not
required, under the Bolam test, that a doctor should explicitly consider, reflect upon, and then reject,
all other avenues of medical treatment open to the patient. The English High Court dealt with the point
explicitly in Smith v. West Yorkshire H.A. (t/a Leeds H.A.), and *C.L.J. 628 held that the Bolam
test does not require the doctor to “second-guess” what other peer professionals may think, and then
conduct himself so as to make a conscious choice between the opinions, in order to preclude a
finding of negligence. It is sufficient that the doctor acts according to a practice that was accepted as
proper by a reasonable body of persons who practiced the same art. In Smith itself, at issue was how
medical staff should have interpreted CTG readings during the mother's labour (the baby boy suffered
from quadriplegic cerebral palsy, allegedly as a result of the negligently-handled birth). The patient's
that a responsible body of professional opinion took the view that the CTG trace was of a
baby who was unwell; but another body of professional opinion (in support of the defendant
obstetrician) considered that the trace was of a baby who was well; and hence, if there were different
bodies holding respectable, but significantly different, opinions on CTG trace interpretation, the
obstetrician's conduct was compromised by the fact that he failed to take into account that other
respectable opinion could reasonably take a different view. The court considered this submission
untenable, as an unacceptable re-writing of Bolam : “[t]he claimant's submission, if correct, would
drastically alter the law
Indeed, in a non-medical Court of Appeal had, by majority, earlier concluded thatthere was no difference between a doctor who decided to follow a particular practice because, on thebasis of his experience, it was a reasonable and accepted medical practice, and one who sat down ina chair and mused upon all the alternative practices open to him and then consciously selected theone to follow. If sued for alleged negligence, both defendants would escape a finding of breach if their conduct accorded with accepted medical practice. (By contrast, the dissenter, Sedley L.J., consideredit to be a “requirement of the Bolam test” that the defendant doctor consider and evaluate thealternatives.) Hence, it is something of an oddity in medical negligence jurisprudence (but probablyreflective of “practical medicine”) that the doctor's expert must have directed his attention to thealternative courses of clinical judgment that could have been exercised to avoid the adverse outcomefor the patient before his support for the doctor's conduct is Bolitho -defensible, whereas the doctorhimself, when acting “at the coalface”, can afford to be less considered.
To summarise this factor, the Bolitho exception will be invoked to overrule Bolam evidence where the
defendant doctor's expert evidence did not undertake a comparative risk/benefit analysis of that
doctor's *C.L.J. 629 conduct and of any alternative course that would probably have avoided the
adverse outcome. However, the law will not insist upon a course of conduct (via Bolitho ) that
completely eliminates the risks of an adverse outcome; and nor does the law require the doctor
himself to have considered, and rejected, all alternative diagnoses or treatments, in order to rely
successfully upon Bolam.
4. Where the accepted medical practice contravenes widespread public opinion
It will be of the reasons advocated for judicial scrutiny of Bolam peer opinion wasto safeguard community expectations of acceptable medical practice. Hence, expert testimony whichfails to meet such expectations (as the court perceives these to be) will invoke a Bolitho overrule.
In the case of organ retention that had occurred in hospitals in Leeds and elsewhere, and which
culminated in the Nationwide Organ Retention Group Litigation, the issue was whether
pathologists were negligent in failing to inform the relatives (mainly parents of children who had died
either at, or shortly after, birth) that, at post-mortem examinations of their children, some organs might
be removed and retained for later scientific study. A national outcry arose when this practice of
harvesting and retaining hearts and brains came to light, and where the parents had been deprived of
an opportunity to object or to refuse. The jointly-agreed expert evidence was that, when this
happened in 1992, the practice was “not to be explicit with parents about the details of the
post-mortem examination”, and that this was “in keeping with the accepted practice of the Furthermore, according to one expert called by the defendants, no parent ever raised any questions
about the process of a post-mortem; it had “never struck the profession that people were concerned
about whether the heart or brain was actually with the rest of the body”; and pathologists involved in
the post-mortems “genuinely believed that they were acting in the best interests of these However, the court accepted the parents' claim that Bolam could not operate to defend this medical
practice. Even if universally accepted, the “blanket practice” was unreasonable, especially given that
it was applied without any case-bycase therapeutic judgment as to each parent's ability to cope with
any organ-retention proposal put to them by the relevant 630 The parents had
called the medical practice “irresponsible conservatism” on the part of the medical profession, but
notably, Gage J. expressly disagreed, remarking that the defendant doctors in this case were
“conscientious and careful practitioners who at all times sought to act in the best interests of their
patients” and that “much of the care provided was in the vanguard of best practice in respect of
bereaved the very fact of the national scandal that gave rise to the group
litigation in the first place was probably an indicator as to how indefensible the practice was, in the
Thus, it is apparent that the Bolitho exception permits the community's expectations to be taken intoaccount where the question of medical breach is concerned. Perhaps more than any other Bolithofactor, this one aptly demonstrates Lord Tomlin's oft-cited caution that “[n]eglect of duty does notcease by repetition to be neglect of 5. Where the doctor's peer medical opinion cannot be correct when taken in the
context of the whole factual evidence
Lord Woolf MR has noted extra-curially that the phrase, “Doctor knows best”, should now be followedby the qualifying words “if he acts reasonably and logically and gets his facts right samecaveat applies to the peer professional opinion adduced in a medical trial. In some instances in whichsuch “found-to-be-wanting-in-logicalanalysis” reasoning has been expressly or implicitly applied, when thefactual context was considered as a whole.
As explained earlier in the between conflicting expert testimony on questions of fact should not attract the Bolam/Bolitho framework at all. This Bolitho factor is different, however, inthat it applies where the defendant doctor misinterprets the facts (and the expert testimony supportsthe doctor in circumstances where the court considers that to have been illogical) or where thedoctor's expert proceeds to support the defendant doctor's conduct in circumstances where thatexpert himself has proceeded upon a mistaken fact. In either case, the expert testimony cannot belogically sustainable or defensible.
The case of Lillywhite v. University College London Hospitals' N.H.S. Trust is arguably an example
of the first type of “mistake” in expert *C.L.J. 631
testimony (although the Bolitho test was not expressly cited to discount the evidence adduced on behalf of the defendant specialist sonologisthere). The patient, baby Alice, was born with a severe malformation of her brain, caused by the failureof her fore-brain to divide into two, early in her foetal development. As a result, she was severelybrain-damaged, quadriplegic, and unable to use her limbs or to talk. The trial judge held that therehad been no negligence on the sonologist's part in failing to identify that three parts of the brain - thecavum septum (CSP), the anterior horns from the lateral ventricles, and the falx - were absent. Peermedical opinion adduced at trial on the defendant's behalf (which the trial judge accepted), was thatthe sonologist must have identified echoes mimicking the brain structures that he was seeking to find.
The Court of Appeal overturned this finding (by that these explanations “wereneither possible nor plausible … In the case of the falx and the CSP the explanations were notpossible when looked at in the context of the evidence as a where a defendantdoctor proceeded upon a mis-diagnosis of the facts have expressly attracted the application ofBolitho, rejection of that doctor's expert testimony, and liability on the part of An example of the second type of mistake - and where the court took a fairly dim view of Bolam
evidence where it was based upon an incorrect factual premise as to what, precisely, happened
during surgery - occurred in Tagg v. Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust, where the
patient suffered a bowel injury during a gynaecological operation. Not only was the defendant
surgeon's expert testimony “neutralised by the unreliability of the factual evidence about what
happened …at the operation on 13 March 1999”, but also the surgical expert had assumed that the
surgeon had performed a certain procedure for purpose X (placing a patch over a thinned area of
bowel to strengthen the bowel wall), whereas it had come to light at trial that it was done for purpose
Y (to prevent further Bolitho was not expressly referred to, these
misunderstood facts and misplaced assumptions meant that the expert's opinion did not exculpate the
surgeon, and breach of duty was found. Similarly, if an expert assumes that the defendant
obstetrician was present at the time that a patient was discharged into the care of a community
mid-wife, and *C.L.J. 632
the defendant was not, then any assessment by the expert that what occurred was responsible obstetric practice can be Bolitho Hence (and as the Singapore Court of Appeal has articulated too in Khoo v. Gunapathy d/o Muniandy), where peer professional opinion ignores or controverts known medical facts or extrinsic facts,Bolitho will be activated.
6. Where the doctor's expert medical opinion is not internally consistent
In Khoo, the Singapore Court of Appeal helpfully sought to flesh out the meaning of the Bolitho gloss,and in so doing, it further observed that: the medical opinion must be internally consistent on its face. It must make cogent sense as a whole,such that no part of the opinion contradicts with another. A doctor cannot say, for example, that hesupports a certain approach and attest that in that very situation, he would nevertheless have donequite the This result had earlier been illustrated in the English case of Hunt v. N.H.S. Litigation Authority, acase of a difficult birth, where the question was whether a forceps delivery should have beenproceeded with, when the CTG was showing signs of foetal distress. The expert called for thedefendant obstetrician gave evidence that, were a forceps delivery to be regarded as appropriate inthis type of case (as the patient had contended), then “untold damage would be caused to thematernal population” - but then conceded that a forceps delivery could have been carried out withoutdifficulty, and that 10% of cases involving this type of scenario did proceed by forceps delivery. Thecourt regarded the evidence as lacking a logical basis, and “extreme”, and rejected it, explicitly relyingon Bolitho. The same rationale applies where, say, the defendant's expert says, “I wouldn't do it the way [the defendant surgeon] did it … [but] I don't think he was remiss in doing it that the court
was satisfied that the expert “lost sight of his overriding duty to the court in the heat of the forensic
moment and allowed himself to be an advocate of a position which he did not really where the court's *C.L.J. 633 view of the defendant's expert evidence amounted to this: “though what
the team did was plainly contrary to established ‘as taught’ practice, and was illogical and useless in
physiological terms, most or many other doctors would do the same in an emergency … I cannot
accept this cases did Bolam evidence carry the day.
Some internal inconsistency was also evident in the Organ Retention Litigation - if thejointly-prepared expert opinion agreed that parents were entitled to have their wishes about theirdeceased children's bodies respected and complied with, Gage J. could not perceive how that waspossible, without the parents being told of the fact that their children's brains and hearts might be A further type of inconsistency may occur where the doctor's expert agrees with broad areas of the
patient's expert, and yet still concludes that the doctor's conduct represented acceptable medical
practice. This type of problem was particularly evident in Smith v. Southampton University Hospital
N.H.S. Trust.
Ms Terrosina Smith underwent a radical hysterectomy and the associated removal of
potentially cancerous pelvic lymph nodes, during which one of the defendant surgeons accidentally
cut or tore the right obturator nerve, which controls the adductor muscles of the right leg. Together
with other (non-negligent) injuries sustained in the operation, Ms Smith was left with significant
disabilities. In relation to the obturator nerve incident, the trial judge surgeon had not
been negligent, but on appeal, this finding was turned on the question of
whether the surgeon had been parting tissue using closed scissors, or whether he had slightly
opened the scissors at a time when he could not see their tips and the extremely sharp tips of the
open scissors had come into contact with Ms Smith's right obturator nerve, severing it. Ms Smith's
expert gave evidence that the points of a surgeon's scissors in this operation should have been kept
closed when not in view, and that damage to the right obturator nerve from partially opened scissors
was sub-standard surgery. The surgeon's expert agreed: “exposed scissor blades are a common part
of our surgical practice and they really should be only exposed when fully visible to the operating
surgeon” and “the commonest reason why the obturator nerve is damaged is that it does come into
contact with an incompletely closed pair of *C.L.J. 634 that latter expert then
concluded that to have the scissors partially opened (if that is what occurred) was not sub-standard
surgical practice. The trial judge accepted the evidence of the surgeon's expert on this point. She
agreed with the view that damage to the obturator nerve “is a recognised complication of a radical
hysterectomy”, and explicitly relied on the Bolam test to exculpate the surgeon from negligence,
stating that his expert was “knowledgeable, skilled and experienced in the field of gynaecology. His
opinion was based upon experience of this procedure and the difficulties encountered by surgeons.
…No one has suggested that [the expert] does not represent the view of a responsible body of
gyn-oncological surgeons. Accordingly the claimant has failed to satisfy the test for negligence in
respect of damage to the right
However, the Court of Appeal disagreed with this analysis, held the surgeon to be negligent, andrejected that defendant's Bolam evidence. According to Wall L.J. (with whom the other judgesagreed): [The trial judge] appears to rely exclusively on the Bolam test. Thus, she merely says that [thesurgeon's expert] is highly reputable and that it had not been suggested that he did not represent theview of a responsible body of gyn-oncological surgeons. With great respect to the deputy judge, I donot think this is good enough. Where there is a clear conflict of medical opinion, the court's duty is notmerely to say which view it prefers, but to explain why it prefers one to the other. This, in myjudgment, is all the more so when the expert whose view is preferred accepts a sub-stantial elementof what the less favoured expert describes as basic good practice - in this case, keeping your scissorsshut unless you can see what you are doing. In such circumstances, it is not sufficient, in my view,simply to say that [the expert] is representative of a responsible body of medical opinion and that, asa consequence, the surgeon was With respect, this passage is somewhat confusing. In cases to which Bolam applies (and this aspect
of Ms Smith's operation was explicitly described as involving medical “practice”, within the ambit of
Bolam ), the court is not permitted to prefer the patient's body of opinion over the defendant doctor's
and conclude negligence on that basis - Maynard, Bolitho and Sidaway explicitly prohibit that However, although Bolitho was not referred to, the inconsistency in the testimony of the surgeon's
expert meant, in effect, that it could not be determinative of the question of negligence. Once that
expert had conceded that a surgeon's scissors ought to have been kept shut if they were out *C.L.J.
of sight and the surgeon could not see what he was doing, and given that the damage to the
obturator nerve was more likely than not caused by their being apart/open, then it was presumably
illogical and indefensible to opine that the practice of holding the scissors slightly open was
acceptable medical practice. It is a marked pity that the Court of Appeal was not clearer in its
reasoning in respect of this part of the case.
Although often not attributed to the Bolitho judgment, it is submitted that the Singapore Court ofAppeal is correct when it suggests that a body of medical opinion adduced on behalf of the defendantdoctor cannot withstand logical analysis when it is internally inconsistent on its face. The clarity ofEnglish judgments would benefit from a more explicit recognition of this Bolitho factor.
7. The peer professional opinion has adhered to the wrong legal test
If the peer medical opinion called by the defendant doctor applies the wrong legal test, so that theexpert asks himself whether the defendant achieved, say, a lower-than-reasonable standard of care (i.e. , the expert peer opinion has referred to the wrong standard of care, when contending that thedoctor's conduct met that standard), then the expert has not adhered to the Bolam test at all. In thatevent, the evidence given by the expert will fail as indefensible, and Bolitho will be activated.
Although this may be regarded as an almost unthinkable error, it has indeed occurred in Englishmedico-legal jurisprudence. For example, in the case of Hutchinson v. Leeds H.A. the court had toconsider whether the defendant surgeon had allowed faecal impaction to cause the disintegration ofthe patient's posterior-rectal wall, thereby requiring the patient, a young woman who was beingtreated for acute myeloblastic leukaemia, to undergo surgery and to have a colostomy. The peeropinion adduced on behalf of the surgeon was not accepted, because “[i]n my judgment, [the expert]was adopting a standard… that is not the standard adopted by the law. To say that before a doctor isguilty of a breach of his duty of care he has to be found to have committed an error so gross and/orso crass that no reasonably competent doctor would ever have committed, is not the standardadopted by the law as set out in Bolam, Maynard or Bolitho. A breach was found, and the Bolamevidence was rejected, principally because the expert “set a yardstick” by which to assess the acts oromissions of the surgeon and the surgical team, which was incorrect.
*C.L.J. 636 B. More than a Matter of Credibility
As a final point, some real inconsistency has emerged in English judgments about the assertion, “thedoctor's expert is very eminent in his field, and therefore, how could he not represent the views of aresponsible body of medical opinion?”. After all, in Bolitho itself, Lord Browne-Wilkinson suggestedthat it would “very seldom be right for a judge to reach the conclusion that views genuinely held by acompetent medical expert are expert opinion triggered theoperation of the Bolitho trump card.
Typical of the issue is the decision in Wiszniewski v. Central Manchester H.A. a birth-relatednegligence suit, in which the defendant obstetrician's expert evidence was that a respectable schoolof obstetricians would not have conducted further investigations and moved immediately to intervenein the birth by means of a Caesarean section, at signs of possible trouble with the foetal heartbeat.
The trial judge preferred the patient's expert testimony that investigations and earlier interventionshould have occurred, and found the obstetrician negligent, explicitly on the basis that theobstetrician's expert evidence lacked logical analysis: “[t]he risks of not acting were too great and thedownside very small.” Hence, the trial judge performed the very type of comparative risk/benefitanalysis which Lord Browne-Wilkinson advocated in Bolitho itself (and which was handed down justafter the trial judge's decision). However, the trial judge's findings on this point were overturned onappeal, partly on the basis that the very eminence of the defendant's experts rendered the Bolitho testdifficult to satisfy. Brooke L.J. (writing for the Court of Appeal) considered that the case “fallsunquestionably on the other side of the line” from the type of expert testimony that lacks a logicalbasis, referred to the fact that the relevant expert was “an eminent consultant and an impressivewitness”, and noted that it was wrong and “quite impossible” to have concluded that the defendant'sexpert's views as to how the birth should have been managed could not be logically supported byresponsible though, breach was upheld on a different basis.) Of course, if this type of deferential attitude towards the defendant's experts were to prevail (and otherjudges continue to remark that it will be very difficult to apply Bolitho where a distinguished expert inthe field considered the accused doctor's treatment or diagnosis to be a reasonable there would be very little scope for Bolitho's *C.L.J. 637
commentators have considered the Bolitho test as going to the heart of the credibility of an expertwitness, that “[o]nce the credibility of that expert has been tested, there is a more limited scope forrejecting professional Bolitho -type cases pertain more to “an assessment of thecredibility of the witness rather than a true assessment of However, as seen by the foregoing analysis in this Section, the categorisation of Bolitho factorscovers a range of scenarios in which the expert evidence was not defensible, and while some ofthose factors (e.g. , where the expert endorses a practice that he or she personally would “neverpractise”) do pertain to credibility, others require a close examination of the reasons as to why experts(however eminent they might be) advocated certain medical diagnosis or treatment for that patientwhich have nothing whatsoever to do with credibility (e.g. , the comparative weighing of risks andbenefits).
It has often been said that the temptation to treat a grievously-injured patient with sympathy andhindsight must be sternly too, these must not trump a consistent exposition oflegal principle. In that regard, the precise meaning to be attributed to Bolitho's labels - incircumstances where there is a conflict of expert medical opinions, and the court is being asked toprefer that of the patient's - requires close analysis, if the law's assessment of medical breach is toretain cogency and clarity.
Browne-Wilkinson's labels - “illogical” and “irrational” - can be made out, so as to overrule approvedmedical practice under the Bolam test. In short, the court must consider whether the doctor's experttestimony: • took account of a clear and simple precaution which was not followed but which, more probably thannot, would have avoided the adverse outcome; • considered conflicts of duties among patients, and resource limitations governing the medicalpractice; *C.L.J. 638 • weighed the comparative risks/benefits of the medical practice, as opposed to other
course(s) of conduct;
• took account of public/community expectations of acceptable medical practice; • was correct in light of the factual context as a whole; • adhered to the correct legal test governing the requisite standard of care.
If the answers to any of these is “no”, then a “red flag” should arise, because it then constitutes aground upon which English courts, over the past decade, have been prepared to reject peer medicalopinion as being indefensible.
The stated purpose of this article has been to flesh out the Bolitho “labels” of “irresponsible”,“irrational”, or “lacking a logical basis” with recognisable scenarios by which to identify when Bolamevidence may be attacked and, ultimately, disregarded. In circumstances of clinical judgment to whichBolam properly applies, where the court is faced with two bodies of peer professional medical opinion,and prefers the patient's, then explaining that preference on the basis that the defendant's expertopinion lacks a logical basis (and why it does) should be judicially articulated, to avoid any potentialconfusion between exhibiting a preference for the patient's case (impermissible) and the invocation ofBolitho (permissible). Moreover, the application of Bolam beyond the bounds of renders the clarification of Bolitho's gloss of wider moment for professional negligence law as awhole.
In an age when patient-based rights seem to be in the ascendancy, it is worthwhile emphasising thatthe medical profession has “rights” too - one of which is a clear exposition and application of legalprinciple as to when, and why, Bolam evidence will not “carry the day” and absolve a defendantdoctor of breach.
Professor, Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London. The author is grateful forconstructive refereeing comments received upon an earlier draft. Of course, any errors remain solelythe author's responsibility.
Williams & Co. Ltd. v. Michael Hyde & Ass. Ltd. [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 823, 830, referring to: Bolam v. Friern Hospital ManagementCommittee [1957] 1 W.L.R. 583, 587. The Bolam test now applies to any profession which requires special skill, knowledge orexperience: Gold v. Haringey H.A. [1988] Q.B. 481, 489; Edward Wong Finance Co. Ltd. v. Johnson Stokes & Master (a firm ) [1984] A.C.
Adams v. Rhymney Valley DC [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 777, at [42] (Sir Christopher Staughton and Morritt L.J., Sedley L.J. dissenting) (rewindow design and fire escape). Cf. : Buck v. Nottinghamshire Healthcare N.H.S. Trust [2006] EWCA Civ 1576, at [36] (Bolam does notdetermine question of breach of hospital towards staff).
The terminology used, e.g. , in: Joyce v. Merton Sutton and Wandsworth H.A. (1995) 27 B.M.L.R. 124, 137; Rampling v. Haringey H.A.
(Q.B., 30 July 1996); Birch v University College London Hospital N.H.S. Foundation Trust [2008] EWHC 2237 (Q.B.), at [54].
[1998] A.C. 232 (Lord Browne-Wilkinson delivered the judgment of the House, on behalf of Lords Slynn, Nolan, Hoffmann and Clyde, on13 November 1997).
These phrases are to be variously found in the judgment, ibid. , at 238, 241 and 243. The phrase, “respectable body of professionalopinion”, was also cited by Lord Browne-Wilkinson, at 241, with reference to Lord Scarman's terminology in the earlier decision, Maynardv. West Midlands Regional H.A. [1984] 1 W.L.R. 634, 639.
Kingsberry v. Greater Manchester Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 2253, 87 B.M.L.R. 73, at [11].
R. Heywood, “The Logic of Bolitho ” (2006) 22 Professional Negligence 225, at 234.
In Maynard v. West Midlands Regional H.A. , Lord Scarman paraphrased the Bolam test as applying “in the realm of diagnosis andtreatment ” [1984] 1 W.L.R. 634, 638 (emphasis added); and in Bolitho, Lord Browne-Wilkinson referred to Bolam's test as a question ofwhether “the defendants' treatment or diagnosis accorded with sound medical practice”: [1998] A.C. 232, 241 (emphasis added), and at242.
For recent discussion of Bolam in failure-to-disclose-inherent-risks litigation, see: Birch v. University College Hosp. N.H.S. Trust [2008]EWHC 2237, 104 B.M.L.R. 16, and earlier: Pearce v. United Bristol Healthcare N.H.S. Trust (1998) 48 B.M.L.R. 118; Sidaway v. Board ofGovernors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital [1985] A.C. 871. For commentary on Birch, see, e.g. : R. Heywood, “Medical Disclosure ofAlternative Treatments” [2009] C.L.J. 30.
Caparo Industries plc v. Dickman [1990] 2 A.C. 605, 618. See too, Lord Bingham's statement about labels in Commrs of Customs andExcise v. Barclays Bank plc [2006] UKHL 28, [2007] 1 A.C. 181, at [6].
Per the authorities cited at note 33 below.
English v. Emery Reimbold & Strick Ltd.; D.J. & C.Withers v. Ambic Equipment Ltd.; Verrechia v. Commr of Police of the Metropolis(Practice Note) [2002] EWCA Civ 605, [2002] 1 W.L.R. 2409, and see, too: Flannery v. Halifax Estate Agencies Ltd. [2000] 1 W.L.R. 377(“the judge must enter into the issues canvassed before him and explain why he prefers one case over the other. This is likely to applyparticularly in litigation where … there is disputed expert evidence”), cited in Withers, at [6]; St George v. Home Office [2008] EWCA Civ1068, [2009] 1 W.L.R. 1670. In the medical context, see: Glicksman v. Redbridge Healthcare N.H.S. Trust [2001] EWCA Civ 1097, 63B.M.L.R. 109, at [10]-[11], for a discussion of the importance of due judicial process, and the safeguards which careful judicial rebuttal ofexperts' views provide. See too: B. Moxon Browne QC, “Butterfingers and the Bolam Test: Can Bolam Apply to Simple Clumsiness by theDoctor?” [2008] Injury Times (2 Temple Gardens).
Albeit that there is no property in a witness, and under the Civil Procedure Rules, r. 35.3(1) and (2), the role of the expert is now “to helpthe court on the matters within his expertise”, so that this “duty overrides any obligation to the person from whom he has receivedinstructions or by whom he is paid”. See, further, on this point: Royal Brompton Hosp N.H.S. Trust v. Hammond (No 2 ) [2002] All E.R. (D)189 (T.C.C.), at [22]; and Moxon Browne QC, ibid. Throughout this article, references to the masculine gender import references to the feminine gender, unless otherwise indicated by thecontext.
Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 W.L.R. 583, 587 (“Bolam ”). The test was derived from McNair J.'s direction tothe jury.
This point was alluded to, e.g. , by Warner J. in Taylor v Warners (Ch.D., 21 July 1987), citing that part of McNair J.'s judgment in Bolamwhich states: “it is not essential for you to decide which of two practices is the better practice, as long as you accept that what thedefendants did was in accordance with a practice accepted by responsible persons; if the result of the evidence is that you are satisfiedthat his practice is better than the practice spoken of on the other side, then it is really a stronger case”: [1957] 1 W.L.R. 583, 587-588.
See too: I. Kennedy and A. Grubb, Medical Law, 3rd ed., (London 2000), p. 427.
Foo Fio Na v. Dr. Soo Fook Mun [2007] 1 M.L.J. 593, [2006] M.L.J.U. 518 (Fed. Ct. of App., 29 December 2006), at [26]. This view wasalso posed by J. Fleming, The Law of Torts, 9th ed., (Sydney 1997), p. 121.
Khoo v. Gunapathy d/o Muniandy [2002] 2 S.L.R. 414, at [63].
Hajgato v. London Health Assn (1982), 36 O.R. (2d) 669, 693.
Burne v. A [2006] EWCA Civ 24, at [10].
F v. R [1983] 33 S.A.S.R. 189 (Full Ct.) 191, per King C.J. (this was also a disclosure, not a treatment, case). Also: Scott v. LothianUniversity Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2006] Scot. C.S. (O.H.), at [33], [36] (“Professional practice is not conclusive evidence of the prudenceof a course of action where that practice, which a profession has adopted as a matter of its own convenience, involves risks that areforeseeable and readily avoided”).
See, e.g. : Shakoor v. Situ (2000) 57 B.M.L.R. 178, 184 (using a hypothetical example only of prescribing arsenic). See too: IppCommittee, Review of the Law of Negligence: Final Report (2002), at [3.10] and [3.24], citing cervical smear results and subsequentcancer treatment in New Zealand: Committee of Enquiry into Allegations Concerning the Treatment of Cervical Cancer at NationalWomen's Hospital and into Other Related Matters (1988).
Lord Woolf, “Are the Courts Excessively Deferential to the Medical Profession?” (2001) 9 Med L. Rev. 1, at 3.
Wisniewski v. Central Manchester H.A. [1998] EWCA Civ 596. [no pp]; Kamalam a/p Raman v. Eastern Plantation Agency (Johore )[1996] 4 M.L.J. 674. See too: I. Kennedy and A. Grubb, Medical Law, 3rd ed., (London 2000), p. 425 (Bolam gave “exceptionalprominence to expert evidence”); E. Jackson, Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials 2nd ed., (London 2010), p. 120 (Some post-Bolamcases showed “excessive deference”).
[1998] A.C. 232. For a previous similar reasoning, see: Hills v. Potter [1985] 1 All E.R. 643, 728.
Ibid. , at 243. For academic commentary at the time, either emphasising or debunking the effect that Bolitho would have on the law ofprofessional breach, see, e.g. : H. Teff, “The Standard of Care in Medical Negligence: Moving on from Bolam ” (1998) 18 O.J.L.S. 473; A.
Grubb, “Negligence: Causation and Bolam ” (1998) 6 Med. L. Rev. 378; M. Brazier and J. Miola, “Bye-Bye Bolam : A Medical LitigationRevolution?” (2000) 8 Med. L. Rev. 85; J. Keown, “Reining in the Bolam Test” (1998) 57 C.L.J. 248; N. Castle, “Applying Bolitho ” [1998]J. of Personal Injury Law 278; M. Jones, “The Bolam Test and the Reasonable Expert” (1999) 7 Tort L. Rev. 226; N. Glover, “Bolam in theHouse of Lords” (1995) 15 Professional Negligence 42.
[2005] EWHC 459 (Q.B.), at [9]-[10].
Kingsberry v. Greater Manchester Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 2253, 87 B.M.L.R. 73, at [11].
M v. Blackpool Victoria Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2003] EWHC 1744, at [24]; Marriott v. West Midlands Regional H.A. [1999] 1 Lloyd's Rep.
Med. 23, 35; Ball v. Wirral H.A. (2003) 73 B.M.L.R. 31, 43.
J.D. Williams & Co. Ltd. v. Michael Hyde & Ass. Ltd. [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 823.
e.g. : Bellarby v. Worthing and Southlands Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2005] EWHC 2089, 86 B.M.L.R. 1, at [112]; Tuke v. Mid Essex HospitalServices N.H.S. Trust (Q.B., 1May 2003), at [32]; Manning v. King's College Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2008] EWHC 1838 (Q.B.), at [140];Cowley v. Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic H.A. [2007] EWHC 48 (Q.B.), 94 B.M.L.R. 29, at [53]-[55]; O'Loughlin v. Greig (Q.B., 5November 1999); Rampling v. Haringey H.A. (Q.B., 30 July 1996), [no pp]; Nash v. Kingston and Richmond H.A. (1996) 36 B.M.L.R. 123;Newbury v. Bath District H.A. (1998) 47 B.M.L.R. 138, 143; Brooks v. Home Office (1999) 48 B.M.L.R. 109, 116; Joyce v. Merton Suttonand Wandsworth H.A. (1995) 27 B.M.L.R. 124, citing trial judge Overend J.'s earlier statement with approval; Adderley v. NorthManchester H.A. (1995) 25 B.M.L.R. 42, [no pp]; Neilson v. Basildon of Thurrock H.A. (Q.B., 15 February 1991); Marriott v. WestMidlands Regional H.A. [1999] 1 Lloyd's Rep. Med. 23 (“the judge… correctly directed herself that it was not open to her simply to preferthe expert evidence of one body of competent professional opinion over that of another where there was a conflict between the expertscalled by the parties”).
B v. North West Strategic H.A. (City Maternity Hospital Carlisle ) [2008] EWHC 2375, at [9].
Maynard v. West Midlands Regional H.A. [1984] 1 W.L.R. 634, 638, 648, per Lord Scarman (“[a] court may prefer one body of opinion toanother, but that is no basis for a conclusion of negligence”); Sidaway v. Governors of Bethlem Royal Hospital [1985] A.C. 871, 895, per Lord Diplock (“[the court] has to rely upon and evaluate expert evidence, remembering that it is no part of its task of evaluation to giveeffect to any preference it may have for one responsible body of professional opinion over another, provided it is satisfied by the expertevidence that both qualify as responsible bodies of medical opinion”); Bolitho v. City and Hackney H.A. [1998] A.C. 232, 243, per LordBrowne-Wilkinson (“it would be wrong to allow such assessment to deteriorate into seeking to persuade the judge to prefer one of twoviews both of which are capable of being logically supported”).
Adams v. Rhymney Valley DC [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 777, at [41] (emphasis added).
Bolitho [1998] A.C. 232, 243.
Ministry of Justice v. Carter [2010] EWCA Civ 694 (a unanimous judgment delivered 18 June 2010).
Ibid. , at [28] and [29], per Sir Scott Baker.
See, generally: Williams & Co. Ltd. v Michael Hyde & Ass. Ltd. [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 823.
[1957] 1 W.L.R. 583, 587 (emphasis added).
(2000) 55 B.M.L.R. 63, at [26] (emphasis added).
Gold v. Haringey H.A. [1988] Q.B. 481.
Savage v. South Essex Partnership N.H.S. Foundation Trust [2008] UKHL 74, at [50].
Bailey v. MOD [2008] EWCA Civ 883.
L v. West Midlands Strategic H.A. [2009] EWHC 259.
[2010] EWCA Civ 694, at [23] (“That clinical judgment takes the case back to an analysis as described in Bolam and Bolitho ”, perLeveson L.J.).
J.D. Williams & Co. Ltd. v. Michael Hyde & Ass. Ltd. [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 823. Also: Royal Brompton Hosp N.H.S. Trust v. Hammond(No 2 ) [2002] All E.R. (D) 189 (T.C.C.), at [17].
A. Dugdale et al. (eds.), Clerk and Lindsell on Torts, 19th ed., (London 2009), at [10.63] (Bolam “only to professional decisions whether ornot to use a certain form of treatment [and diagnosis], and not to simple cases of carelessness”); and see, too: M. Jones, MedicalNegligence, 4th ed., (London 2008), p. 255.
Smith v. Southampton University Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2007] EWCA Civ 387, and discussed further in: B. Moxon Browne QC,“Butterfingers and the Bolam Test: Can Bolam Apply to Simple Clumsiness by the Doctor?” [2008] Injury Times (2 Temple Gardens).
Report from the Appeal Committee of the House of Lords (dated 16 October 2007) (on the grounds that the case did not raise anarguable point of law of general public importance).
Garcia v. St Mary's N.H.S. Trust [2006] EWHC 2314 (Q.B.), at [88] (“[o]bviously this issue does not relate to medical or surgical diagnosisor treatment. What it relates to is staffing levels. But it has been argued before me on the footing that the Bolam/Bolitho principles apply tothat question as well. I, therefore, deal with the case on that basis”).
Burne v. A [2006] EWCA Civ 24, at [13] (the point, “while an important aspect of clinical practice, sits at the threshold rather than at thecentre of it”).
Rehman v. University College London [2004] EWHC 1361 (Q.B.).
Mellor v. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 780 (re the medical decision to discharge a patient who was unable totolerate an exercise test and who complained of chest pain, without conducting further coronary investigation and treatment; patientsuffered cardiac arrest shortly after, and died; negligence held, on the basis that either this was not a Bolam matter, or “even if Bolam isapplicable to this issue”, the expert evidence which supported the defendant cardiologist's decision to discharge “would not be logicallysustainable”: at [245]. The same either/or analysis was evident in, e.g: Sutcliffe v. BMI Healthcare Ltd. [2007] EWHC Civ 476, 98 B.M.L.R.
211, at [33], on which, for criticism, see: P. Case, “Applications of Bolitho to Standard of Care and Causation” (2007) 23 ProfessionalNegligence 193.
Fallows v. Randle (C.A., 7 May 1996) (accessed via Lexisnexis, no pagination available).
Penney v. East Kent H.A. (2000) 55 B.M.L.R. 63, and applied, in a similar type of case of what was visible to the cytoscreeners, in:Conway v. Cardiff and Vale N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 1841 (Q.B.).
Colwill v. Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2007] EWHC 2881 (Q.B.).
J. Steele, Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Oxford 2007), p. 128.
See, e.g. : Marriott v. West Midlands Regional H.A. [1999] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 23, per Bedlam L.J.; and see, more recently: A v. CroydonSocial Services [2009] EWHC 939 (Admin), at [79]-[80]. For a non-medical application, see, e.g. : Nye Saunders & Partners (a firm) v.
Alan E. Bristow (1987) 37 B.L.R. 97, 103.
See n 1 above.
Other interesting post-Bolitho reviews have concentrated on different aspects, e.g. : R. Heywood, “The Logic of Bolitho ” (2006) 22Professional Negligence 225; A. Maclean, “Beyond Bolam and Bolitho ” (2002) 5 Med. Law Intl. 205.
J. Herring, Medical Law and Ethics, 3rd ed., (Oxford 2010), p. 108.
Noted, e.g. , in: In Re B (A Child ) [2000] 1 W.L.R. 790 (Fam. Ct.), at 796, per Otter L.J.; E v. Castro [2003] EWHC 2066, 80 B.M.L.R. 14,at [99]. In Bolitho itself [1998] A.C. 232, 243, Lord Browne-Wilkinson referred to the occasion for the court's contrary decision as “veryseldom” occurring. Reiterated in: M v. Blackpool Victoria Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2003] EWHC 1744 (Q.B.), at [42]. Academic commentaryhas also suggested that the application of Bolitho would occur in “the very rare case”: W. Rogers, Winfield and Jolowicz on Tort, 17th ed.,(London 2008), at [5.56], or “may not advance the law very much”: S. Deakin, A. Johnston and B. Markesinis, Markesinis and Deakin'sTort Law, 6th ed., (Oxford 2008), p. 234.
French v. Thames Valley Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 459 (Q.B.), at [112]; Hucks v. Cole [1993] 4 Med. L.R. 393, 397 (Sachs L.J.).
Calver v. Westwood Veterinary Group (2000) 58 B.M.L.R. 194, at [31], [34] (Simon Brown L.J.).
AB v. Leeds Teaching Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 644 (Q.B.), 77 B.M.L.R. 145, at [226].
See, e.g. : Kushnir v. Camden & Islington H.A. (Q.B., 16 June 1995), citing: Bolitho v. City and Hackney H.A. [1993] 4 Med. L.R. 381, 392(Dillon L.J.). Note, however, the disapproval in: Joyce v. Merton Sutton and Wandsworth H.A. (1995) 27 B.M.L.R. 124, [no pp available](“it does not assist to introduce concepts from administrative law such as the Wednesbury test; such tests are directed to very differentproblems and their use, even by analogy, in negligence cases can …only serve to confuse”), and the criticism by noted commentatorssuch as: I. Kennedy and A. Grubb, Medical Law, 3rd ed., (London 2000), p. 442.
[2006] EWHC 2880 (Q.B), (2007) 93 B.M.L.R. 166. A point also noted in, e.g. : M. Jones, Medical Negligence, 4th ed., (London 2008), p.
241, fn. 65.
Ibid. , at [33]. The expert opinion given by the neurosurgeon called on behalf of the defendant GP was in accordance with Bolam, and thecourt expressly disavowed Bolitho from applying: at [105]-[106].
(1996) 27 B.M.L.R. 124. Also pointed out in, e.g.: J. Montgomery, Health Care Law, 2nd ed., (Oxford 2003), p. 176.
McCallister v. Lewisham and North Southwark H.A. (Q.B., 15 December 1993), [no pp] (“This was, in my judgment, a borderline case,and although …[the defendant senior neurosurgeon] can immerse himself in a school of thought which would have condoned interventionhere, I am bound to say that I think that school was very much in the minority”; no breach on the basis of negligent treatment; there was,however, a failure to disclose risks). See, too, e.g. : De Freitas v. O'Brien (1995) 25 B.M.L.R. 51 (only 11 specialist spinal surgeons inEngland could constitute a body of peer opinion as to whether surgery on the patient was accepted medical practice).
[2005] EWHC 459 (Q.B.), at [112] (emphasis added).
[1993] 4 Med. L.R. 393, and hence, a “long overlooked” decision: M. Lunney and K. Oliphant, Tort Law: Text and Materials, 4th ed.,(Oxford 2010), p. 2020.
A point also made recently in: Ministry of Justice v. Carter [2010] EWCA Civ 694, at [22], per Leveson L.J., referring to Hucks v. Cole asexemplifying the “group” of Bolitho cases.
Gascoine v. Ian Sheridan and Co. (Q.B., 9 September 1994) (legal negligence case for allowing action in medical negligence to be struckout for want of prosecution; clear precaution, when confronted with an invasive malignancy in a patient, was to consult others with widerexperience, instead of proceeding to radical treatment by external pelvic irradiation; “some prospect” of showing negligence).
Burne v. A [2006] EWCA Civ 24 (child A born with a hydrocephalic condition that required him to be fitted with a ventriculo-peritonealshunt, which continuously drained excess fluid from the brain cavity, and of which any blockage was potentially critical; clear precautionwas for the defendant GP to ask a series of “closed” or leading questions (e.g. , was A vomiting, or experiencing headaches?), rather thanasking open questions that lead to an incorrect diagnosis of upper respiratory infection; shunt was blocked, and A suffered heart attackand brain damage). A retrial was ordered, on the basis that the medical experts had not been asked to address the Bolitho point; this wasnecessary before a court could apply Bolitho and reject the GP's expert evidence.
Farraj v. King's Healthcare N.H.S. Trust [2008] EWHC 2468 (Q.B.).
Penney v. East Kent H.A. [2000] Lloyd's Med. L.R. 41 (where cervical smear slides demonstrated observable abnormalities, clearprecaution was not to designate the slide as “negative”, but to only assign negative status to a slide if there could be “absoluteconfidence” that it had no abnormalities; failure by cytoscreeners to adopt that clear precaution rendered their practice of assigningnegative status illogical).
[2004] EWHC 1198 (Q.B.). See too: Calver v. Westwood Veterinary Group [2001] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 20, at [34] (noting that one expert“clearly treats animals more defensively” than the other; “Both opinions, however, seem to me clearly capable of logical support and inthat situation there is no room for a finding of negligence”; no breach found on appeal).
G v. Central and North West London Mental Health N.H.S. Trust [2007] EWHC 3068 (Q.B.).
Ibid. , at [94]-[95], per Judge Shaun Spencer Q.C., citing: Arthur J.S. Hall & Co. (a firm) v. Simons [2002] 1 A.C. 615, 690, per LordHoffmann.
French v. Thames Valley Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 459 (Q.B.), at [113] (“Mrs French's doctors had to balance her interests and thoseof the Claimant [newly born daughter], but the balancing is to some extent skewed in favour of the mother”; no breach of duty found).
Competing obstetric emergencies meant that one mother/baby was not attended to in time to prevent brain damage to the baby in, e.g. :DA v. North East London Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 950 (Q.B.), at [95] (no breach; court satisfied that conduct of attendant obstetrician“represent a sensible and realistic approach”). Also: Smithers v. Taunton and Somerset N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 1179 (Q.B.) (nobreach).
Bolitho v. City and Hackney H.A. [1998] A.C. 232, 241-42. A direct finding that a comparison was undertaken, and no breach found,occurred, e.g. , in: Sutcliffe v. BMI Healthcare Ltd. [2007] EWCA Civ 476, 98 B.M.L.R. 211; Zarb v. Odetoyinbo [2006] EWHC 2880, 93B.M.L.R. 166 (Q.B.), at [84], [100], [106]; French v. Thames Valley Strategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 459 (Q.B.), at [113]; Ju v. See Tho KaiYin [2005] SGHC 140, [2005] 4 S.L.R. 96, at [65]; Burke v. Gillard [2003] EWHC 2362 (Q.B.), at [84]; E v. Castro [2003] EWHC 2066(Q.B.), 80 B.M.L.R. 14, at [186]; Ocloo v. Royal Brompton and Harefield N.H.S. Trust (2001) 68 B.M.L.R. 89, at [62]; Mirza v. BirminghamH.A. (Q.B., 31 July 2001), at [71]; Zinzuwadia v. Home Office [2001] EWCA Civ 842, at [11]; Julien v. East London and City H.A. (Q.B., 10November 2000); Brown v. Lewisham and North Southwark H.A. (Q.B., 6 March 1998); Hallatt v. North West Anglia H.A. (C.A., 8 April1998); Ashard v. Cambridge H.A. (Q.B., 26 November 1999); Brooks v. Home Office [1999] 2 F.L.R. 33, 48 B.M.L.R. 109.
Khoo v. Gunapathy d/o Muniandy [2002] 2 S.L.R. 414, at [64].
e.g. : Mellor v. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 780 (Q.B.), at [244]-[245] (decision to discharge patient, withmultiple risk factors for coronary disease and low tolerance for exercise, not logically sustainable; risk/benefit calculation pointed“overwhelmingly” in favour of proceeding to a thallium scan); Reynolds v. North Tyneside H.A. (Q.B., 30 May 2002), at [47] (for reasons ofrisk of infection, no vaginal examination performed upon pregnant woman who presented with complications; child asphyxiated duringbirth; failure to examine did not withstand logical analysis, given extremely minimal risk of such infection); Marriott v. West Midlands H.A.
[1999] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 23, 26-27 (patient suffered head injury in fall; GP failed to refer patient for further neurological tests when, 8days later, he was presenting with headaches, lethargy and lack of appetite; patient suffered paralysis from intracranial lesion; GP'sexpert evidence said it was reasonable to leave patient at home, with instructions to wife to telephone if husband's condition worsened;this lacked logical analysis, and patient should have been admitted to hospital for neurological testing and observation, especially whenrisks of not doing so were so catastrophic, and when facilities for performing scans, etc, were so readily available); Purver v. Winchesterand Eastleigh Healthcare N.H.S. Trust [2007] EWHC 34 (Q.B.), at [64] (re the so-called “ten-minute-rule”, whereby at onset of significantfoetal bradycardia, baby must be delivered within ten minutes, failing which risk of irreversible brain damage; newborn suffered braindamage due to oxygen deprivation during birth; obstetrician's expert evidence was that it was acceptable medical practice to haveproceeded to further traction rather than perform a caesarean section; but any suggestion that longer than 10 minutes was an appropriateobjective was “incapable of withstanding logical analysis”); Bouchta v. Swindo n [1996] 7 Med. L.R. 62 (County Court (Wandsworth))(following routine hysterectomy, patient's ureter blocked and damaged; explanation for that damage provided by surgeon's experttestimony not a “good and sufficient explanation”, despite complexities of operation; negligence found); Hanson v. Airedale HospitalN.H.S. Trust [2003] C.L.Y. 2989 (Q.B.) (patient sustained severe brain injury after suffering cardiac arrest at A&E department whileunmonitored; hospital failed to urgently request results of blood sample for CPK enzyme; CPK results would have resolved any difficultywith diagnosis; no logical reason why CPK result could not have been expedited).
[2005] EWHC 2253 (Q.B.), 87 B.M.L.R. 73. Cited and applied in part in: Purver, ibid. An electronic device attached to a mother's abdomen during labour, which simultaneously records the rate of the foetal heartbeat and therate of maternal contractions.
See, e.g.: Smithers v. Taunton and Somerset N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 1179 (Q.B.), at [53(vi)] (no breach); DA v. North East LondonStrategic H.A. [2005] EWHC 950 (Q.B.), at [95] (no breach).
Adams v. Rhymney Valley DC [2000] Lloyd's Rep. P.N. 777, at [43], with Sedley L.J.'s dissenting opinion at [19].
See n 22 above.
See Group Litigation Order No. 9, at: <>. The title of the litigation was: AB v. LeedsTeaching Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 644 (Q.B.), 77 B.M.L.R. 145.
Ibid. , at [220] (a point made during the course of the claimants' submissions).
Bank of Montreal v. Dominion Gresham Guarantee and Casualty Co. (Canada) Ltd. [1930] Q.C. 659 (P.C.) 666.
Lord Woolf, “Are the Courts Excessively Deferential to the Medical Profession?” (2001) 9 Med. L. Rev. 1, at 1 (emphasis added).
Latham and Buxton L.JJ.; Arden L.J. dissenting.
Ibid. , at [106] (Buxton L.J.).
Drake v. Pontefract H.A. [1998] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 425 (Q.B.) (mis-diagnosis of serious suicide risk); Mellor v. Sheffield TeachingHospitals N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 780 (Q.B.) (mis-diagnosis of serious cardiac disease).
Ogwang v. Redbridge Healthcare N.H.S. Trust (Q.B., 4 July 2003) (pregnant woman discharged from hospital into care of communitymidwife; sent back to hospital and readmitted the following day; breach of duty).
[1998] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 425, at [34].
Glicksman v. Redbridge Health Care N.H.S. Trust (Q.B., 23 June 2000), at [14], [24]. The trial judge rejected the defendant surgeon'sexpert evidence, and found breach; but liability was set aside on appeal, because of a lack of reasoned rebuttal of the experts' views inthe trial judge's decision: [2001] EWCA Civ 1097, 63 B.M.L.R. 109.
Ogwang v. Redbridge Healthcare N.H.S. Trust (Q.B., 4 July 2003), at [39].
Antoniades v. East Sussex Hospitals N.H.S. Trust [2007] EWHC 517 (Q.B.), at [73].
AB v. Leeds Teaching Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2004] EWHC 644 (Q.B.), 77 B.M.L.R. 145.
Another surgeon was absolved from negligence with respect to a perforation of the left external iliac vein during the surgery, and special
leave to appeal against that finding was refused: see note 52 above.
(2006) 150 S.J.L.B. 1114 (Q.B.), at [35].
[2007] EWCA Civ 387, at [41], and see too, (2006) 150 S.J.L.B. 1114 (Q.B.), at [60]-[62] for the trial judgment.
Ibid. , at [44] (emphasis added).
See note 33 above.
Ibid. , at [78]. See also the criticism of the expert's use of the wrong standard in: Ng Yuk Ha v. Yip Siu Keung (H.K.C.F.I., 19 July 2005).
[1998] EWCA Civ 596, [1998] P.I.Q.R. P324.
See, e.g. : Cowley v. Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic H.A. [2007] EWHC 48 (Q.B.), 94 B.M.L.R. 29, at [55] (no Bolitho application; nobreach); Ndri v. Moorfields Eye Hospital N.H.S. Trust [2006] EWHC 3652 (Q.B.), at [35]; Sellers v. Cooke (Q.B., 4 April 1989) (“Honestand brilliant gynaecologists called in this case have given different opinions. One group enculpates, one group exculpates Mr Cooke”; nobreach on main allegation); Zarb v. Odetoyinbo [2006] EWHC 2880 (Q.B.), at [34] (“The challenge facing the Claimant is a high one,given the qualifications of [the neurosurgeon called to give evidence on behalf of the defendant GP]”).
J. Montgomery, Health Care Law, 2nd ed., (Oxford 2003), p. 176.
A. Maclean, “Beyond Bolam and Bolitho ” (2002) 5 Med. Law Intl. 205, at 222.
e.g., Townsend v. Worcester and District H.A. (1994) 23 B.M.L.R. 31, 45; Nawoor v. Barking Havering and Brentwood H.A. [1998] Lloyd'sRep. Med. 313 (Q.B.), at [last para]; Goby v. Ferguson [2009] EWHC 92 (Q.B.), at [103].
Note 1 above.



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