Wilsher -v- Essex Area Health Authority; HL 24-Jul-1986

A premature baby suffered injury after mistaken treatment by a hospital doctor. He had inserted a monitor into the umbilical vein. The claimant suggested the treatment should have been by a more senior doctor. The hospital appealed a finding that it had failed to prove that it had not caused the injury.
Held: The appeal succeeded. It was for the plaintiff to prove his case, and the court must allow that the Health Service will employ inexperienced doctors. The standard of care to be expected must be looked at relative to the experience of the doctor employed. However, the senior registrar was negligent in failing to recognise the error, and the damage was shown to be of the sort which might be expected to follow.
It was one thing to treat an increase of risk as equivalent to the making of a material contribution where one agent was involved, but quite another where any one of a number of events may equally probably have caused the damage.

Court: HL
Date: 24-Jul-1986
Judges: Sir Nicolas Browne-Wilkinson V.-C., Mustill and Glidewell L.JJ.
Links: Bailii,
References: [1988] AC 1074, [1988] 1 All ER 871, [1987] UKHL 11
Cases Cited:
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Filed under Health Professions, Professional Negligence

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