Negligence claims by patients go on unabated, but as two recent cases demonstrate, they can be fought successfully where it can be shown that there is insufficient evidence that the injuries were caused by negligence.
In a case brought against Rotherham General Hospitals trust, which must have cost much more in legal bills than the sum at stake, the trial judge decided that a woman who suffered a broken nose during an eye examination must have caused her own injury by banging her head on the machinery used, something the ophthalmologist could not have foreseen. The decision was backed on appeal.
In the other case, a High Court judge dismissed a negligence claim brought against East London and the City HA by a brain-damaged baby and her mother.
A registrar had felt the mother should try for a natural birth, in view of the risks from other options because of her weight.
Two hours later she had been pushing for half an hour with no results. The registrar decided on a caesarean and she was being wheeled to the operating theatre when a strong contraction delivered most of the baby's head.
But the baby was unable to breathe, starving her brain of oxygen.
The judge said the registrar had weighed up the risks and benefits and reached a reasonable conclusion, which was overtaken by events.