Summary of Recent Cases – Substantive Law

Hussain v King Edward VII Hospital, [2012] EWHC 3441 (QB)

The Claimant was an engineer who was admitted to the Defendant hospital for treatment to a cancerous growth in his bladder. He was put under general anaesthetic in the course of a cystoscopy. When he awoke after the operation, he found that he was suffering from severe pain in his left shoulder. It emerged that the Claimant was suffering from a previously asymptomatic degenerative shoulder problem. He brought an action on the basis of res ipsa loquitur: that since something must have occurred in the course of his being under general anaesthetic to cause the previously asymptomatic problem to become symptomatic, the hospital must have been in breach of duty.

The Court found that something must have happened while the Claimant was under general anaesthetic to make his previously asymptomatic condition become symptomatic (para 17). However, this was not sufficient in itself to establish a case of negligence. Indeed, in the absence of a prima facie case of negligence the issue of res ipsa loquitur did not arise at all (para 35). The Defendant established that all reasonable care had been taken and accordingly the claim was dismissed.

December 19, 2012 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases