Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee
1 WLR 582 is an English tort law
case that lays down the typical rule for assessing the appropriate standard of reasonable care in negligence
cases involving skilled professionals (e.g. doctors): the "Bolam test". Where the defendant has represented him or herself as having more than average skills and abilities, this test expects standards which must be in accordance with a responsible body of opinion, even if others differ in opinion. In other words, Bolam test states that "If a doctor reaches the standard of a responsible body of medical opinion, he is not negligent
Mr Bolam was a voluntary patient at mental health institution run by the Friern Hospital Management Committee. He agreed to undergo electro-convulsive therapy
. He was not given any muscle relaxant
, and his body was not restrained during the procedure. He flailed about violently before the procedure was stopped, and he suffered some serious injuries, including fractures of the acetabula
. He sued the Committee for compensation. He argued they were negligent for (1) not issuing relaxants (2) not restraining him (3) not warning him about the risks involved.
It is important to note that at this time juries were still being used for tort cases in England and Wales, so the judge's role would be to sum up the law and then leave it for the jury to hold the defendant liable or not.
McNair J at the first instance noted that expert... Read More