A landmark Supreme Court ruling that compensation should be paid for an injury caused by a receptionist giving misleading information at A&E need not cause alarm throughout the NHS about increased levels of responsibility, according to a specialist medical negligence lawyer Chris Thorne.
ast week’s decision in the case of Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust does not impose a new requirement on hard pressed A&E receptionists to provide medical advice, according to Chris Thorne who heads the personal injury and clinical negligence team at Clarke Willmott LLP.
“It merely confirms that no one in the medical setting should provide wholly misleading information without having the slightest regard for its accuracy,” said Chris Thorne.
Michael Darnley, who had been struck over the head in an attack, was inaccurately told by the A&E receptionist at Croydon’s Mayday Hospital that he faced a wait of up to five hours.
Feeling too ill to face such a wait, he returned home where he suffered a catastrophic bleed on the brain that left him with left-sided paralysis.
The Supreme Court found that a “very near full recovery” would have been the likely outcome had Mr Darnley still been in Mayday’s A&E department when the bleed occurred.
Five Supreme Court justices unanimously held that Michael Darnley is entitled to compensation because the giving of such misleading information about his expected wait time was “negligent”.
Chris Thorne said:
“In this case a patient suffered catastrophic life-changing injuries as a result of an off-the-cuff remark which proved to be untrue.
“Reasonable thought must always be given to the accuracy of information being provided to patients.”
The amount of damages to be awarded will be decided by the High Court at a later date.