Surgeon found liable for not warning of partial paralysis riskBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7472.938-a (Published 21 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:938
- Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
Britain's highest court, the House of Lords, made new law last week when it took the rare step of departing from long established legal principles to hold a consultant neurosurgeon liable for a patient's paralysis even though on normal principles his negligent failure to warn her of the risk had not caused her injury.
English law has long required anyone suing for compensation for personal injury to prove not only that the person sued was negligent but that the negligence caused the damage.
But by a 3 to 2 majority the law lords ruled that surgeon Fari Afshar must compensate a travel journalist, Carole Chester, for negligently failing to warn her of a 1-2% unavoidable risk of partial paralysis, even though she would not have …