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Willsher v Essex Area Health Authority [1988] 1 AC 1074 House of Lords

A premature baby was given too much oxygen by a junior doctor. The baby suffered from a condition affecting his retina which left him totally blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. The condition could have been caused by the excess oxygen he had been exposed to or it could have been caused by four other factors unrelated to the oxygen, but related to the premature birth. The trial judge found the Health Athority liable. He applied McGhee v NCB but stated that McGhee had reversed the burden of proof where there was more than one possible causes. The Health Authority appealed.

Held:

Appeal allowed.
 
The defendant was in breach of duty. A junior doctor owes the same standard of care as a qualified doctor. McGhee did not reverse the burden of proof which always remains on the claimant.
 
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