Bolam test


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Bolam test

A test that arose from English tort law, which is used to assess medical negligence. Bolam holds that the law imposes a duty of care between a doctor and his patient, but the standard of that care is a matter of medical judgement.

Under Bolam, the plaintiff seeking to prove medical negligence needs to (1) show that there was a duty of care between the doctor or nurse and the patient, which is usually a straightforward exercise, and (2) that the act or omission of the doctor or nurse breached the duty of care. In Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957], the court held that there is no breach of standard of care if a responsible body of similar professionals support the practice that caused the injury, even if the practice was not the standard of care. The ruling meant that the accused doctor need only to find an expert who would testify to having done the same thing. Thus, Bolam was criticised for its overreliance on medical testimony and personal judgement of experts chosen by the defendant. Bolam has been subsequently modified by the Bolitho test (see there).
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The courts apply what is known as the Bolam test, after a famous case of the same name.
While the Bolam test at first appears to be similar to the predominant U.
263) The extent to which judges are free to stray from the Bolam test in reality, however, is as yet unclear.
280) (In fact, an Australian Supreme Court judge criticized the Bolam test using these very terms.
In this way, the common sense "smell test" would not be subverted as easily by technical application of the Bolam test.
Finally, the creation of a new legal standard based on these new disclosure policies enables patients who clearly have been harmed by violative nondisclosure to have redress when the Bolam test might not otherwise do so.
But Mr Justice Peppitt, delivering judgment in the case, said that the so-called Bolam Test of medical negligence had been proved.