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


** 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


** 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?


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.


** 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


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

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