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Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital Management Committee, [1968] 1 All ER 1068

Facts:

** Three men went to hospital complaining about vomiting for several hours after drinking tea
** Nurse told doctor, doctor instructed nurse to tell them to go home and call their family physicians
** One man died for arsenic poisoning five hours later

Issue(s):

** The doctor breached the standard of care by dismissing the deceased’s complaints without ever seeing or examining him.
*** Was the doctor’s negligence the cause of the man’s death?

Ratio:

The causal relation between the alleged negligence (or actual careless conduct) and the injury must be made out by the evidence and consistent with the context.

Analysis:

** The deceased did not die until noon
** Even if admitted to the hospital, treatment would not have started until after noon
** Therefore, the injury would have occurred regardless of the doctor’s negligence; no causation

Holding:

Decision in favour of defendant: plaintiff did not establish that the defendant’s negligence caused the death of the deceased


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