Sion v Hampstead Health Authority: CA 27 May 1994

An amendment to pleadings was allowed after the limitation period had expired in order to add a claim based on the same facts. The claim was brought by the father of a young man injured in a motor cycle accident. For fourteen days the father stayed at his son’s bedside, watching him deteriorate in health and fall into a coma and then die. The father now appealed against an order striking out his claim.
Held: Appeal dismissed, finding that there was no trace in the medical report of ‘shock’ no sudden appreciation by sight or sound of a horrifying event. The report described a process continuing for some time, from first arrival at the hospital to the appreciation of medical negligence after the inquest. In particular the son’s death when it occurred was not surprising but expected. There was no reason in logic why a breach of duty causing an incident involving no violence or suddenness, such as where the wrong medicine is negligently given to a hospital patient, could not lead to a claim for damages for nervous shock, for example where the negligence has fatal results and a visiting close relative, wholly unprepared for what has occurred, finds the body and thereby sustains a sudden and unexpected shock to the nervous system.
Peter Gibson LJ, Staughton LJ, Waite LJ
Times 10-Jun-1994, [1994] 5 Med LR 170, [1994] EWCA Civ 26
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedNorth Glamorgan NHS Trust v Walters CA 6-Dec-2002
A new mother woke in hospital to see her baby (E) fitting. E suffered a major epileptic seizure leading to coma and irreparable brain damage. E was transferred to a London hospital and the following day the claimant was told by a consultant that E’s . .
CitedTaylor v A Novo (UK) Ltd CA 18-Mar-2013
The deceased had suffered a head injury at work from the defendant’s admitted negligence. She had been making a good recovery but then collapsed and died at home from pulmonary emboli, and thrombosis which were a consequence of the injury. The . .
CitedPaul and Another v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust QBD 4-Jun-2020
Nervous shock – liability to third parties
The claimants witnessed the death of their father from a heart attack. They said that the defendant’s negligent treatment allowed the attack to take place. Difficult point of law about the circumstances in which a defendant who owes a duty of care . .

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Updated: 14 May 2021; Ref: scu.89280