Liability of medical practitioners for the acts of their schizophrenic patients

B suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. As a result of his condition he attacked his mother and killed his father. A claim was brought against the patient’s General Practitioner and Primary Care Trust alleging negligent failures in treating B’s mental illness as a result of which the attacks occurred.

The principal issue in the case related to whether or not the Defendants owed the Claimant (B’s mother) and her deceased husband a duty of care. The duty of care was owed to B and the issue was whether or not that duty of care extended to victims of B’s attack.

As this was a complicated area of law the matter was defended by the General Practitioner’s defence organisation and the NHS Trust.

A substantial settlement was reached with B’s mother, the Claimant, both in respect of the death of her husband and in respect of her own injuries. She was able to establish given the particular factual circumstances of this case that the doctor’s duty of care to B extended to B’s victims.

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