Health Alert (Australia) - June 30, 2014


In This Alert:

Judgments; Legislation; and Reports.

Excerpt from Judgments:

Commonwealth -

20 June 2014 - Hunter and New England Local Health District v McKenna; Hunter and New England Local Health District v Simon and Anor [2014] HCTrans 137 -

This was a special leave application by the Hunter and New England Local Health District to the High Court of Australia from a decision of the New South Wales (NSW) Court of Appeal.

The case involved the compulsory detention of a patient under the Mental Health Act 1990 (NSW). After a psychiatrist working at the hospital assessed the patient, he was discharged into the custody of a friend so they could travel back to Victoria where the patient's mother lived. When they stopped on the side of the highway, the patient strangled and killed his friend. The late friend's mother and sisters claimed damages for psychiatric injury resulting from nervous shock. The primary judge concluded the plaintiffs had not established negligence. The Court of Appeal overturned the primary judge's findings, determining the plaintiffs had established negligence which was causally related to their injuries.

The issue during the special leave application was the application of the statutory defence of competent professional practice to a claim of negligence and the inconsistency between the obligations under the Mental Health Act and common law duty of care...

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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