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Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital [1969] 1 QB 428

Mr Barnett went to hospital complaining of severe stomach pains and vomiting. He was seen by a nurse who telephoned the doctor on duty. The doctor told her to send him home and contact his GP in the morning. Mr Barnett died five hours later from arsenic poisoning. Had the doctor examined Mr Barnett at the time there would have been nothing the doctor could have done to save him.

Held:

The hospital was not liable as the doctor's failure to examine the patient did not cause his death.

Introduced the 'but for' test ie would the result have occurred but for the act or omission of the defendant? If yes, the defendant is not liable
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Back to lecture outline on causation in tortious liability