23 September 2011
Don't panic! James Bell certainly isn't with NASA satellite due to hit earth!
I wonder what your acceptable level of risk is? Do you ride your bike through red lights with you iPod cranked up to the max?
Do you jump into an unlicensed minicab at 3 in the morning?The reason I ask is that NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is set to hit earth in the early evening today. There is a 1 in 3000 chance it will hit someone. Given that there are 6 or 7 billion of us the planet, we each have a one in 20 trillion chance of being hit by a 500 kilo lump of metal. These are odds I am prepared to accept and you will find me going about my normal business today rather than sheltering under the kitchen table in floods of tears. But how is this relevant to clinical negligence I hear you cry! Well the law states ( http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2008/2237.html ) that patient don't have be advised of risks that are very small. However if there are two ways of performing a procedure then the patient must be told of the comparative risks of both methods. In our line of work, time and again we see that this is not done and the surgeon has opted for his chosen method without advising the patients of other ways of proceeding. As I said, I will be out and about this evening (without my tin hat) but if you feel safer in your bed under several layers of duvet, that's fine too.
If you do get hit by some NASA hardware you can't say you weren't warned. James Bell is a Partner in the Russell Jones & Walker clinical negligence team. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.