09 JUN 2015
Shorter v Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust  EWHC 614 (QB)
Secondary victim - psychiatric harm
High Court, Queen's Bench Division
25 March 2015
Swift J DBE
The claimant’s sister’s suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage as a result of the defendant’s negligence and died on 13 May 2009. The claimant suffered nervous shock as a result of the failed diagnosis and claimed damages as a secondary victim. The claim was dismissed on the basis that the claimant had not had sufficient physical proximity and that the required test was an objective one - the fact that the claimant was a nurse would not make the events more horrifying.
The defendant had admitted negligence and had admitted that but for its negligence, the claimant’s sister would have survived. The defendant had settled a claim by the deceased’s estate and also a claim by her husband for nervous shock.
The claimant was present with her sister from admission until she was pronounced dead. She claimed damages as a secondary victim, stating that she had gone through a single horrendous event starting with the news of the deterioration in her sister’s condition and concluding with her sister’s death. She attended the hospital and saw her in pain. Later that day she received a telephone call from her brother-in-law in which she learnt of the defendant’s negligence and its repercussions by a telephone call. The claimant suffered from a major depressive disorder and sought damages from the defendant trust.
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