Ambulance care following spinal injury

Although a relatively brief judgment addressing liability issues only, Griffiths v The Secretary of State for Health [2015] EWHC 1264 (QB) provides an analysis of a claim against an ambulance service provider for failing to immobilise the claimant’s neck before moving him into a sitting position.

The ambulance officers assumed, mistakenly, that the claimant had suffered a stroke. It was not disputed that this assessment was negligent: [10]. It remained to be determined whether the failure was responsible, at least in part, for his residual disability:

On that causation issue, the court had regard to a published study (which was of limited use), the factual evidence as to what was done on the day and the expert evidence.

The court concluded at [56] that there was evidence of manhandling (by the ambulance staff) and deterioration was sufficiently compelling to support the conclusion that the manhandling was responsible for the deterioration.

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