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   Home      Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Committee

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 583

The claimant was undergoing electro convulsive therapy as treatment for his mental illness. The doctor did not give any relaxant drugs and the claimant suffered a serious fracture. There was divided opinion amongst professionals as to whether relaxant drugs should be given. If they are given there is a very small risk of death, if they are not given there is a small risk of fractures. The claimant argued that the doctor was in breach of duty by not using the relaxant drug.


The doctor was not in breach of duty. The House of Lords formulated the Bolam test:

"a medical professional 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 man is not negligent, if he is acting in accordance with such a practice, merely because there is a body of opinion who would take a contrary view."
Back to lecture outline on breach of duty in negligence