HEALTH LAW Doctor's negligence when providing medical care, compensation, cyber attacks

Date: Petak, Mart 3, 2017
Category: 2017

In the context of this year's Congress of Lawyers (Union Internationale des Avocats – UIA) held in Budapest in the period from 28.10 to 01.11.2016 one of the topics was the Health Law.

Lectures in the field of health were presented through the prism of procedures related to doctor's negligence when providing medical care and in this connection compensation of damages but also possibility of cyber-attacks.

In this respect, in the procedures due to negligence, it is very important to limit the police actions following reports related to the potential existence of negligence of doctors in the course of medical treatment i.e. when there is suspicion of the same. So, every doctor, other medical worker and hospitals, are required to report any suspicion of the existence of mistakes in the course of medical treatment which resulted in death of a patient. What usually happens and creates a problem is too early i.e. too rapid intervention of police following the report. In the opinion of the lecturers on this topic it is very important to protect the doctor or other healthcare worker who was responsible for treating the patient prior to proving a reasonable doubt on the existence of the offense or negligence in the treatment.

Thus, following the reports related to the possibility of existence of “abnormal” death, the police officers are obliged to immediately attend the scene and determine the existence of the evidence and the circumstances under which the possible criminal offense was committed. If the family of the deceased patient finds out that the police had visited the hospital after the patient's death, it can cause unnecessary reaction of the family and lead to filing of legal actions for damages, which might be refused if it is established that there were no mistakes in the course of medical treatment. This especially if in the course of treatment, surgery or other medical interventions, there are certain complications that might be expected and when the possibility of the same was communicated to the patient in advance by a doctor and medical facility at which the same was treated.

In this connection, it is unnecessary to label doctors and medical facility in which the event has happened before determining the existence of grounds for the criminal offence. Such actions can leave far-reaching effects on the reputation of the doctor, and the medical facility where the same works (especially private health facility).

Trends in the world are to establish the existence of the Commission or other state bodies that will come out to the scene and determine the circumstances under which the death has occurred, even before the case is assigned to the police and especially before the same is assigned for a criminal procedure.

 Of course, with a medical mistake there is also the problem of compensation for damage, especially when it comes to the insurance of one's life and professional liability insurance. In essence, the problem arises in insurance companies that cover the insured event and which should compensate the damage. Mostly it comes to a consideration of damage of high value, and insurance companies are trying to protect their interests as much as possible and especially considering the upward trend in cases of medical mistakes with the consequence of death. In the countries with developed health care system raises also an issue of public and private (voluntary) health insurance, where insurance companies are ‘lobbying’ that a greater liability for damages is borne by the public health insurance. Ideas that arise even led to the formation of a special Guarantee Fund for compensation for damage.

Overall, the top issue of this year congress was the Personal Data Protection, and the speakers referred to this subject through the right to health care. In practice of European countries have appeared dozens of cases of theft of personal data of patients, which are later sold on the “black market” or through the same would be taken other personal data  such as, for example, data on credit cards. Some of the speakers pointed out that medical institutions, represent the most common target group of cyber attackers, even before the banking industry.

What is one of the major risks in the future in relation to cyber-attacks is possibility of hacking medical devices, which may seriously jeopardize the functioning of the health system on the one hand, and the lives of patients on the other hand.


Skrbic Natasa, e-mail: