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Hannigan v Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust [2012] CSOH 152 - 21st September 2012


An action seeking reparation for loss and damage suffered as a consequence of alleged negligence of a consultant and registrar in gynaecology while carrying out a total abdominal hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and left salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the left ovary). The issues were whether the ligation of the ureter was negligent and, if so, whether there was a causal link between the negligent act and the loss and damage the pursuer claimed to have sustained.

Action dismissed. Held, inter alia: i) when more than one usual and normal practice exists, each supported by a body of expert professional opinion, it was necessary for the court to focus attention on the third test laid down in Hunter v Hanley 1955 SC 200, namely whether it was established that the course a doctor adopted was one which no professional man of ordinary skill would have taken if he had been acting with ordinary care, which was not made out in this case; ii) where there are two opposing schools of thought among the relevant group of responsible medical practitioners as to the appropriateness of a particular practice, it was not the function of the court to prefer one school over the other, unless the court could be satisfied that the opinion of one of the schools could not logically be supported (Honisz v Lothian Health Board 2008 SC 235 followed). It was not irrational or illogical practice for the surgeon in this case to proceed on the basis that the need to be as confident as possible be balanced against the potential risk of injury by further surgical intervention.