Bolam Test

Medical professionals have a legal duty of care towards their patients. The Bolam test is a test applied to establish whether a medical practitioner has met their duty of care. If they have failed to protect their patient’s wellbeing and safety, this could lead to a clinical negligence claim.

What is the history of the Bolam Test?

In 1957 a patient, Mr Bolam, was given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment which caused him to sustain serious fractures. Mr Bolam then brought a medical negligence claim to court on the following basis:

  • He had not been warned about the risks involved in the Procedure.
  • The doctor had failed to administer muscle relaxation prior to the Procedure.
  • He had not been restrained during the Procedure.

Mr Bolam’s case failed because it was found medical protocols which existed at the time had been correctly followed.

However, the case led to a test being developed known as the Bolam test to determine whether a medical practitioner has met their legal duty of care or has acted negligently.

How is the Bolam test applied?

The Bolam test is a peer review of a medical professional’s actions. The Test establishes whether a practitioner has acted in a way that a substantial body of other skilled professionals in the same field would have acted.

Even if the other medical professionals say they would have acted differently, they may still decide that the treatment or level of care was acceptable.

When is the Bolam test applied?

All medical practitioners, including doctors, nurses, dentists and surgeons, have a legal duty of care towards their patients.

When the actions of a professional may have exacerbated someone’s condition or caused them to become ill, then a medical negligence claim may be brought against them. The Bolam test is then used to establish whether they have breached their duty of care.

Today bodies like NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) have set out comprehensive guidelines on duty of care and best practice. This means that if a medical professional has satisfied the Bolam test, they may still be found to have failed in their duty of care if they have not followed NICE recommendations.

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How can Davisons Law help?

If you think you have been affected by medical negligence, please talk to us. Our highly experienced medical negligence solicitors can advise you whether you have a claim or investigate if there has been negligence. If you do pursue a claim, we fight for answers and compensation on your behalf.

We can work on a No Win, No Fee basis with Insurance to cover expenses (subject to approval) so you have no upfront costs to pay and there is no financial risk to you.

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