The Bolam Test, United Kingom
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BOLAM TEST FOR LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENCE – UK
First, a duty of care must be owed; second, that duty of care must have been broken; and, third, the breach in the duty of care must have caused the damage.
The standard used in determining whether there has been a breach in the duty of care is known as the Bolam Test, after the judgment in the case Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Committee (1957).
It was alleged in this case that the doctor administered electro-convulsive therapy to Mr Bolam without anaesthetic or muscle relaxants.
Mr Bolam suffered a fractured jaw. In his judgement, Mr Justice McNair stated:
“The test is the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have that special skill. A man need not possess the highest and professing to have that special skill. A man need not possess the highest expert skill … it is sufficient if he exercises the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man exercising that particular art. … a doctor is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art. … Putting it the other way round, a doctor is not negligent, if he is acting in accordance with such a practice, merely because there is a body of opinion that takes a contrary view”.