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Sion  v  Hampstead Health Authority [1994] EWCA Civ 26  Court of Appeal

The claimant’s son was seriously injured in a motor-cycle accident. He was taken to hospital and the staff failed to diagnose that he was bleeding from his kidney. The son went into a coma three days after the accident having suffered a heart attack. His condition deteriorated and he was placed in intensive care but unfortunately died fourteen days after the accident. The claimant remained at his son’s bedside throughout and suffered psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing his son’s deterioration. He brought an action against the hospital alleging their negligent treatment of his son caused him to suffer psychiatric injury. The hospital applied to have the claim struck out as disclosing no cause of action. Brooke J found for the hospital and the claimant appealed.

Held:

The appeal was dismissed.

Staughton LJ:

“In my opinion there is no trace in that report of "shock" as defined by Lord Ackner, no sudden appreciation by sight or sound of a horrifying event. On the contrary, the report describes a process continuing for some time, from first arrival at the hospital to the appreciation of medical negligence after the inquest. In particular, the son's death when it occurred was not surprising but expected.”
 
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