A B v Australian Capital Territory [2018] ACTSC 18 is a decision of the Supreme Court of the ACT which considers the liability of a hospital following the abuse and assault of the plaintiff by another patient who was affected by, at least, alcohol and admitted to the same ward. The plaintiff had suffered a PTSD as a result.

The plaintiff alleged that the abuse and assault only took place because the hospital breached its duty of care to her – the misbehaving patient should not have been placed in the same ward, or if there was no option, he should have been supervised and she should have had the means to summon nursing staff if anything untoward occurred.

The court found that the hospital’s negligence was clear:

24. In my view, the duty owed by the hospital to the plaintiff was to ensure that she would be treated in a safe environment, free from foreseeable dangers. [The patient’] was a very foreseeable danger because of his history, his conduct on presentation at the hospital and his conduct after his admission and in particular in the ward. [The patient’] should not have been in that ward and he should not have been so unsupervised that he was capable of freely molesting other patients.

25. … the risk of a person who was drunk and behaving in the manner of [the patient] causing harm to another patient if not separated from the ward was foreseeable. The risk was clearly not insignificant and a reasonable person would have taken precautions to avoid the risk. …

Damages were awarded totalling almost $270,000.

To read the decision in A B v Australian Capital Territory [2018] ACTSC 18, click here.