Judgment has been handed down in FB v Rana et al [2015] EWHC 1536, in which John Whitting QC represented the Hospital Trust.

FB was a 13 month old child who developed bacterial meningitis and subsequently sustained significant neurological injury. Before the diagnosis was made, she was seen by a GP and by a Senior House Officer (SHO) in the Emergency Department of her local hospital. She alleged that both had negligently failed to appreciate the severity of her condition and that both should have referred her to the paediatric department of that hospital. It was common ground that had such a referral been made, further investigation would probably have identified a raised CRP and intravenous antibiotics would have been commenced which, in turn, would have avoided any permanent neurological damage.

In a comprehensive and lengthy judgment, Mr. Justice Jay dismissed the claims against both Defendants. He found, contrary to the Claimant’s case, that the SHO had taken appropriate care when taking a history from the Claimant’s parents and when examining her. Her diagnosis of an upper respiratory tract infection was, he found, entirely reasonable. The Claimant had argued that the A&E SHO should be judged, at least in part, by the standards of a paediatrician since she had just completed a six month rotation in paediatrics and had adduced evidence from a consultant paediatrician on breach of duty. However, Mr. Justice Jay declined to hear evidence from that expert as to the appropriate standard of care: he ruled that the only relevant discipline was that of a A&E practitioner. The doctor’s experience on a six month training rotation was irrelevant.