medical law Cases

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Bolam V Friern hospital Management Committee (1957) WLR 582

Medical negligence

This case has become popular because it established a separate standard of test for medical negligence from that of a reasonable man test in other tort cases.

In this case, Bolam, a mental health patient, was advised to undergo electro convulsive therapy (ECT). Though there is varied opinion as to desirability to warn client of risk involved in the process at that time, he was not warned of the risk of fracture, the use of relevant drugs and physical restraint necessary. As a result, Bolam sustained fractured hip during this treatment and claimed for negligence.

In a claim for negligence, the court held that it is sufficient if the skill exercised is in accordance with accepted practice by 'responsible body of medical men' skilled in that particular art. This means that when the defendant is a doctor, to determine his or her liability for medical negligence, the test of a reasonable man is substituted for that of another doctor conducting the same practice.