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Applicability of the doctrine of <i>Res Ipsa Loquitur</i> in medical negligence in Nigeria

Tolulope Revelation Ibitoye


Medical negligence or malpractice is a recurrent challenge in the field of medical practice. This occurs as a result of failure to exercise due diligence in the acts or omissions of medical practitioners while discharging their duties in the treatment and care of their patients. Before a patient can obtain damages from the medical practitioner/doctor or hospital (defendant) for injury suffered, he has to prove that the defendant’s negligence is the cause of the injury. However, majority of medical negligence/malpractice cases are difficult to prove by the plaintiff, hence, the latter relies on the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur which shifts the onus of proof to the defendant. Thus, this paper examines the elements of negligence in tort; and medical negligence; the concepts of vicarious liability, occupier’s liability, contributory negligence; and the principle of Res Ipsa Loquitur and its elements. It further discusses the synergy between Res Ipsa Loquitur and medical negligence; and finally concludes by making few recommendations.

Keywords: Medical Negligence/Malpractice, Duty of Care, Breach of Duty, Damages, Res Ipsa Loquitur, Nigeria