Statistical Evidence and Its Use in Medical Litigation
(2020) 36(2) Journal of Professional Negligence 78 - 83
6 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020 Last revised: 24 Jul 2021
Date Written: June 25, 2020
In cases involving a missed or delayed diagnosis, to successfully establish a claim, patients must demonstrate that they had a better than 50 per cent chance of an improved medical outcome. It is therefore not uncommon for statistical evidence from medical studies to be adduced as evidence before the court in such cases. This also means that patients with a less than 50 per cent chance of an improved outcome have no claim. The recent case of Armstrong Carol Ann v Quest Laboratories (Armstrong) departs from this. The Singapore Court of Appeal held that while statistical evidence can go towards proving that a claimant has an improved outcome on a balance of probabilities, it is not necessarily determinative. The approach adopted in Armstrong may mean lost chance arguments are no longer necessary where the claim involves a missed or delayed diagnosis. Armstrong also serves as a good illustration of how a careful and critical examination of such statistical data can serve to simplify causal issues before the court, allowing the application of the traditional ‘ but-for ’ test to the facts.
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