Stefanyszyn v Brown; Brown v Newcastle Private Hospital Pty Limited t/as Newcastle Private Hospital  NSWSC 826 saw a judgment today on a cross claim in which a doctor sought contribution from a private hospital following a medical negligence claim by the family of a patient who died following surgery.
The cross claim followed a settlement as between the doctor and the family. During the course of the hearing the hospital admitted both negligence and certain breaches of its duty to the deceased patient, concerning deficient recording of observations by nursing staff. Whether they were the entirety of its breaches and whether they had contributed to her death, remained in issue: .
The trial judge held that the hospital’s breaches of the duty which it owed to the patient were more extensive than it finally admitted and that its negligence contributed to her death: .
The hospital sought to rely on a disclaimer signed by the patient by which she acknowledged, amongst other things, that she would not hold the hospital responsible or liable for any injury caused by the negligence or breach of her private treating doctor: .
The court held at  that the scope of the duty which the hospital owed extended not only to the nursing and paramedical services it provided, but also to the services which it did, or ought to have provided, by all members of the clinical team it assigned to help her doctor provide her with the care the patient required, in accordance with its policies, while the patient was admitted to its facilities. At  the trial judge noted:
…the scope of the duty which the Hospital owed Mrs Stefanyszyn extended not only to the nursing and paramedical services it provided her, but also to the services which it did, or ought to have provided her, by all members of the clinical team it assigned to help Dr Brown provide her with the care she required, in accordance with its policies, while she was admitted to its facilities.
Inferences adverse to the hospital were drawn from its failure to call evidence from those who had cared for the patient, and from its failure to produce a clinical pathways document:  – .
Apportionment of liability to the hospital was 20%: .
The contempt issue referred to in the judgment was listed before the court on 24 June 2016. The hospital provided an explanation for non-production, so the issue did not require further attention.