IntroductionIn order to advise whether Elizabeth, John, Lucy and Ben could bring any actions against XY Ltd Manufacturers, Get-well Mental Hospital, or Dr. Mike, we ought to consider whether they have a prima facie case in the tort of negligence and determine whether they are owed any duties of care and the breach of such duties of care has caused injuries to them.
Injury to Primary VictimThe primary victim in this case is Elizabeth. All doctors and nurses owe their patients a duty of care (1). Failure to meet the professional standard of care required of a medical practitioner constitutes a breach.
Jacqueline the nurse: duty of careThe immediate cause of injury is evidently due to Jacqueline's negligence. It is foreseeable that Jacqueline's negligence could lead to Elizabeth's injury. Applying the Bolam Test(2), Jacqueline, as the attending nurse in a mental hospital, in addition to following the doctor's instruction, is expected to take care of patients in distress diligently.
Had Jacqueline not panicked and negligently topples the cylinder, Elizabeth would not be injured. We could also consider Jacqueline acted negligently by not informing Elizabeth's rapidly worsening condition to Dr. Mike(3)?Could Elizabeth be liable to her own injury?Individual are responsible for taking safety precaution to avoid foreseeable injuries. However, Elizabeth, not only an eight-year-old child but also a mental patient suffering side-effect of a medication, would not reasonably be expected to have the intelligence and experience to avoid the injury(4). She is unlikely to be found contributory negligent.
Is Dr. Mike also liable to Elizabeth's injury?Dr. Mike undoubtedly owes a duty of care to Elizabeth as any reasonable doctor in charge would(5). Looking beyond the immediate cause of injury, the "but for"(6) principle applies: would Jacqueline still be panicked and topple the oxygen tank had Elizabeth's behavior not influenced by...