The Doctor Problem
Walter is a general practitioner working for the NHS. Consider what, if any, liabilities in tort he will incur in the following situations:
(a) Sabrina, a prostitute, saw Walter every month to be tested for whether she was HIV+. One month, Walter carelessly mixed up the results of Sabrina’s test (which were negative) with someone else’s results and informed Sabrina that she was indeed HIV+. Sabrina immediately stopped working as a prostitute so as to ensure that she did not infect her clients. She informed one of her regular clients, Alonso, that she had tested HIV+ and advised him that he should have himself tested. He was so distracted and worried by the news that he crossed the road without looking and was run down and killed by a (carefully driven) car. Sabrina subsequently had a second test and discovered that she was not HIV+. She has now gone back to work as a prostitute.
(b) Eric, a friend of Walter’s, was applying for a job at Harry’s firm and needed two professional acquaintances to say on his application form that he was of good character and had no criminal convictions. Eric rang Walter up and asked him if Walter would serve as one of his referees on the application form. Walter said he would be delighted to do so; as he was very busy, he told Eric to drop the form off with his receptionist and that he would deal with it later. Unfortunately, when Walter did get around to filling in the form, he carelessly spilled a cup of coffee all over it. Eric had to apply for a new form and by the time he had filled in and submitted the new application form, the job he was applying for had already gone.
(c) Ian, a young boy, was in Walter’s waiting room with his mother, Hilda, when he started choking on a gobstopper that he had been sucking. Unable to extract the gobstopper, Walter decided that he should perform a tracheotomy on Ian (an operation whereby a hole is made in the patient’s windpipe below the area where it is...