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Somek expert highly praised in court - lessons for all experts

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Nicola Heaps, one of our nursing experts, appeared in court in July this year. The case related to injuries suffered by a 65 year old woman who fell out of bed while an in-patient on a hospital ward. In a nutshell the issues were to do with whether or not the Claimant was confused and predominantly whether or not bed rails should have been used, which the Claimant alleged would have prevented her fall.

On Nicola, the Judge said “NH set out embodiment of CV in her report - vast relevant, recent hands on experience - answered questions in report - gave clear and cogent reasons in witness box - accepted multiple breaches and made concessions such as the absence of a normal risk assessment. I was impressed with her calmness and the authority with which she presented her evidence and her focus and attention on her duty to serve the Court. Where there is any diverging view - I accept NH’s evidence.”

On Nicola’s counterpart XX the Judge said “not impressed with XX - found her evasive - no CV, I requested such at outset of evidence. On its face it referred to her being a lecturer from 2004, she amended such to say 50% practice and 50% lecturing - later questioning elicited she was not acting as a nurse in her own capacity - she said in evidence that she last worked as ward manager in 1990 at variance with her CV which says until 1987. Said she had not considered the core bundle or trial bundle and whilst she read all the documents sent, she may have missed something. More telling was the exchange in cross examination - she was taken to a number of places in her report where she had failed to state that the lack of bedrails was a breach of duty and said that she “did not think it was relevant”; “I did not think it was necessary” - and at one point :”I thought bedrails were up” then said “sorry, I don’t know why I said that, I take it back”.

He went on!

As this was a low value case there is no formal Judgment in the public domain, but an Attendance Note was written by the Defendant’s solicitors, amounting to a transcript of the oral judgment.

Well done Nicola!

This case perfectly highlights the need for expert witnesses to undergo high quality training in relation to their role, as provided for all Somek associates.