Brady v Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust [2020] EWHC 158: 'pure diagnosis' claims and setting the professional standard of care

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Abstract

In Brady v Southend University Hospital NHS Trust, the High Court was asked to consider the applicability of Bolam and Bolitho principles in a so-called ‘pure diagnosis’ claim. The claimant suffered from the long-term effects of an undiagnosed bacterial infection after presenting at the defendant hospital with acute appendicitis. It was argued by claimant’s counsel that where the primary allegation of fault concerns diagnosis, no issues of acceptable practice arise and therefore Bolam and Bolitho do not apply. Rejecting this, the High Court confirmed the applicability of Bolam and Bolitho and found that the defendant hospital had not been negligent. Initially, this result may signal a continued deference towards those in the medical profession, however, it is suggested that an alternative reading evidences a case which lays the groundwork for reconsidering the doctor–patient relationship in the context of treatment and diagnosis actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-383
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Law Review
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Bolam
  • Bolitho
  • Breach of duty
  • Medical profession
  • Professional negligence
  • Pure diagnosis

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