A case highlighting the importance of getting the best expert medical evidence

SALLY HARRIS v FRANCIS JOHNSTON [2016] EWHC 3193 (QB) QBD 14/12/2016

In this case where negligence was alleged in spinal surgery, the claimant’s expert failed to address the defence case and referred throughout to a different instrument having caused injury.   The claimant’s expert proceeded on an assumption as to how the injury occurred without any reference to what was pleaded in the defence.  The first time the defence was addressed was therefore in cross examination and the expert had failed in his duties to the court.  Absent the claimant’s expert evidence, the claimant had to rely on the defendant’s expert evidence and that he did not fall below an acceptable standard of care.   The court disregarded the claimant’s evidence accordingly.  The court accepted the defendant’s expert’s account that the injury was caused by a wholly unexpected and tragic accident, for which the defendant was not liable.

The case highlights the importance of instructing the best expert.  After all, in clinical negligence cases a client already feels that they have been let down by the medical profession, so aside from the right evidence being crucial to their case, there is a parallel factor of at least going someway towards restoring their faith in the medical profession.

It is a pity that we are in an age whereby cost is at the forefront of decisions in managing a case.  After all, the right and the best expert is not necessarily the cheapest.

That’s all for now folks.

Happy Christmas readers!!

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