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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

416                                              MEDICAL JUmSPHtTDENCE

his acts done in the course of treatment were acts for which the hospital was
responsible.

In the' case of Cassidy v. Ministry of Health (1951, 2 K.B. 343) it was
decided by the Court of Appeal that the hospital authority was liable for the
negligence of its paid whole-time medical staff. In this case Cassidy was
operated upon for a contraction of the third and fourth fingers of the left
hand by a whole-time assistant medical officer. After the operation the
plaintiff's left hand and forearm were bandaged to a splint for fourteen days.
During this period he complained of severe pain for which sedatives were
prescribed, but no effort was made to examine the hand and forearm to find
out the cause of pain. When the splint and bandages were removed, all four
fingers were found to be stiff, and the hand was practically useless. In his
judgment in this case Denning, L.J., stated that "the liability of hospital
authorities for the negligence of a doctor on the permanent staff of the
hospital does not depend on whether he is employed under a contract of
service or under a contract for services. It depends upon who employs him;
where the patient himself selects and employs the doctor, the hospital autho-
rities are not liable for his negligence, but where the doctor is employed and
paid by the hospital authorities, they are liable for his negligence in treating
the patient".

The question of the liability of hospital authorities for the negligence of
their honorary visiting staff of specialists is not yet settled satisfactorily by
any Court in England.

Illustrative Cases.—1. Operation in a, State of Drunkenness.—A physician had been
convicted at the Durham Assizes of the manslaughter of a miner's wife on whom he
operated for eclampsia while he was in a state of drunkenness. It was proved that the
woman died two days later from the injuries received during the operation which were
due to want of reasonable skill and care owing to intoxication. He was sentenced by
the Judge to twelve months' imprisonment.—Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc.3 April 15, 1922,
p. 1139.

2.   In the case of Nance v. Beatie  (Kansas)  the evidence tended to show that the
defendant, a dentist, treated the plaintiff's jaw several weeks after he made an unsuccess-
ful attempt to remove an impacted wisdom tooth.   He then Dismissed the case advising
the plaintiff that she needed no further professional attention.   A few days later, another
dentist extracted the tooth apparently with little difficulty, and found the' jaw infected.
3*us flowed freely from the wound.   The court thought that the negligence was sufficient
to uphold the verdict of the jury in favour of the plaintiff.—Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc.,
Nov. 9, 1929, p. 1500.

3.   A case occurred in Paris where while a dentist was treating a young woman,
a small sharp instrument, termed a "nerve puller", slipped from his hand and fell into
her throat.   Later, it necessitated a serious surgical operation on the stomach.   The client
•brought a suit against the dentist, 'but the court before rendering a decision heard the
testimony of expert witnesses who declared that the dentist was not guilty of any tort,
fas the dropping of the nerve puUer was due to the imprudence of the client, who had
seizaed his hand.   However, the civil tribunal did not take the view of the experts, and
decided that in not foreseeing the reactions of his patient, and in not taking all precau-
tions to prevent such, an accident, the dentist had been guilty of negligence, and imposed
on him a'fine of 20,000 francs in addition to the cost of the operation that the patient
had been obliged to undergo.—Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., Dec. 28, 1929, p. 2041.

4.   A hot water bottle used to warm a bed was negligently left in it.    An un-
conscious patient after an operation, was placed in the,, bed in such a position that ,the
Eot water bottle lay between her shoulders, and as a result she was .severely burnt
While she was recovering from Hie anaesthetic the operating surgeon came into the roam.
She complained to him bitterly of the pain between her shoulders, but he paid no atten-
tion to lier complaint and saying that she "had a fine jag on", left the room.   Thereafter
she sued the surgeon for damages, and judgment was rendered in her favour.   It was
held that when his patient "complained, the surgeon owed her the duty of making 'an*
examination, hence fee sbawed.carelessnesa to .that,extent.-—-Hdting et al v. Banks (NJ.)*
146, A. 67 ; Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., April 12, 1930, p. 1170.         ~                             ,

5.   Babu Benarsidas J&wkim v. Major Shyam Behari Lai.—In August 1925, Babu  ;
Benarsidas Kankan who was a raunsaf at Tilhar consulted Major Sfeyam Behari Lai,
Civil Surgeon of Shahjahanjmr, as he was suffering from . dyspepsj^, -sleeplessness • and f,
palpitation of the heart.   According: to the plarntSffJs case the/ doctor »aile a very super-