The healthcare professional and the Bolam test

Br Dent J. 2000 Mar 11;188(5):237-40. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800441.


This article will cover the history of the tort of negligence and how the judgement in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson enabled the courts to 'develop the law' to allow the concept of a 'duty of care' to develop which was extended to include healthcare professionals. The Bolam test is then described and how it has come to play such a prominent role in assisting the courts to assess if an appropriate standard has been achieved in medical negligence litigation. Attempts by the courts to move away from Bolam are discussed and the difficulties encountered because of the reluctance of the appellate courts to approve such decisions. Finally the recent House of Lords decision in Bolitho v City and Hackney Health Authority is examined and the implications this may have on the Bolam test.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Expert Testimony / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Personnel / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / legislation & jurisprudence
  • United Kingdom