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John Anderson v (1) Milton Keynes General NHS Trust (2) Oxford Radcliffe Hospital NHS Trust

Although a hospital had been in breach of duty by not communicating to surgeons performing an operation the results of laboratory tests showing the presence of bacteria in a patient's existing surgical wound, and in not administering appropriate antibiotics to combat those bacteria, the hospital was not liable to the patient for his eventual continuing disability as, on a substantial balance of probabilities, the bacteria would have been immune to attack by that time.

2 June 2006

In a claim for personal injury damages by the claimant (J), the court was required to determine the preliminary issue of whether the second defendant hospital trust (R) was liable to J. J had suffered a severe injury to his left ankle in an accident at work. He was operated on the next day at the hospital of the first defendant and two days later underwent further necessary surgery at R’s hospital during which the wound was unavoidably colonised with meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Two days later the MRSA colonisation was found and recorded in J’s medical notes. Soon afterwards he had a plastic operation but the plastic surgeons were not told about the presence of MRSA. Around 11 days later, as the wound was not obviously infected, as distinct from colonised, with bacteria, and it seemed improved, the decision was made to withdraw the antibiotics used in order to allow any active infection to declare itself. R reasoned that continuance at that stage would only...

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