Professional Negligence Case Notes

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Professional Negligence

In relation to professional negligence the concept of the reasonable man becomes that of the reasonable professional. The reasonable man will normally lack the skill and expertise acquired by the professional. These professional men and women are not only required to take reasonable care but also to measure up to the standard of competency that can be expected from such professionals-that is the standard of, for example the reasonable nurse or the reasonable solicitor. The Irish Supreme Court considered the issue of Medical Negligence in The case of Dunne v. The National Maternity Hospital {1989} IR 91 and set out the standard of care in what we call professional negligence. In this case the plaintiff sued the hospital, claiming that he had suffered severe brain damage while being delivered, due to the negligence of the attending doctors. The Chief Justice set out the standard of care required from medical doctors (and equally other professionals) as : “The true test for establishing negligence in the diagnosis or treatment on the part of a medical practitioner is whether he has been proved to be guilty of such failure as no medical practitioner of equal specialist or general status and skill would be guilty of if acting with ordinary care” Page 109

Thus the courts rely on what is reasonable among the profession. In determining what is reasonable for a nurse in any circumstances the courts will consider whether the nurse acted in accordance with general and accepted practice. Generally if they have acted in accordance with general and accepted practice then the nurse will not be negligent. In the Dunne case the Chief justice as expressed this

“If an allegation of negligence against a medical practitioner is based on proof that he deviated from a general and accepted practice, that will not establish negligence unless it is also proved that the course he did take was one which no medical practitioner of like specialisation and...
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