Anna Hughes successfully represented the Defendant NHS Trust in the case of Beatty v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust [2023] EWHC 3163 (KB)

Posted: 08/12/2023

This clinical negligence claim arose out of an assessment of the Claimant by a consultant vascular surgeon on 13th April 2016, whilst the former was an in-patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Greenwich. The Claimant alleged that there was a negligent failure to investigate whether she had developed an embolism, resulting in a below-knee amputation. The Defendant maintained that it had been reasonable to make a diagnosis of vasculitis and to consider that further investigations were not required at that time.

Mr Justice Jay was called upon to decide a single, narrow issue: was it mandatory for the vascular surgeon to have ordered a CT angiogram of the Claimant’s aorta on 13th April 2016 in order to rule out an embolic cause of her symptoms?

It was held that it was not mandatory to do so. In reaching this conclusion, Mr Justice Jay accepted the evidence of the Defendant’s expert witness – that whilst this was ultimately an embolic picture, it was nonetheless reasonable for the vascular surgeon to make a working diagnosis of vasculitis without first definitely ruling out embolism. In the judge’s view, this evidence was “compelling and could immediately be accepted.” In contrast, there had been no attempt by the Claimant’s expert witness to identify the key issue in the case, to supply any reasoning as to his conclusion that the standard of care was inadequate, or even to analyse the witness statement of the vascular surgeon whose actions had been called into question.  

Accordingly, the claim was dismissed.

The case emphasises the importance of experts adhering to their duty to explain the reasoning behind their opinions, and the need to be accurate in assessing the underlying medical records.

Anna was instructed by Andrew Hannah of Clyde & Co.


Anna Hughes

Call: 2008


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