Medical Malpractice: Statistics, Court Decisions and Solutions for Medical Professionals!

In this article, we will analyse medical negligence and the importance of Professional Liability Insurance, with the help of research and some examples.

The fundamental principles of medical science define and offer guidelines for the practice of medicine. Medical liability is of vital importance. However, medical errors and violations are a serious public health problem worldwide.

Medical liability and negligence have been extensively analysed, both by International Laws and by the Courts of many countries, including Cyprus.

A John Hopkins University study found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer. This means that, every year, approximately 250,000 deaths in the US happen due to medical errors.

Medical malpractice can occur during both the diagnosis and the treatment, but also in the consulting process of a disease’s treatment.

How exactly is medical malpractice defined?

In accordance to the provisions of article 51(1) of the Civil Offenses Law, Chapter 148.

“Negligence consists of –

(a) doing an act which, under the circumstances, a reasonable, prudent person would not do so, or omitting to do an act, which, under the circumstances, such a person would do, or

(b) failure to exercise such skill or care in practicing the profession, vocation or occupation as a reasonably prudent person, qualified to practice that profession, vocation or occupation, would, under the circumstances and in causing damage thereby; . .”

However, are all such claims brought to court medical malpractices?

In the case of America, the phenomenon has evolved like the hen that laid the golden egg, since some of the law firms claim even higher compensation rates and this practice has intensified the phenomenon, combined with the influence of the media.

Research conducted in 1990 by Harvard University showed that 83% of medical malpractice lawsuits in the state of N.Y. were unfounded. For their defence, however, costs of $17,000.00 were paid to each of the physicians’ defendants.

The issue of medical negligence affects hospitals, as in the case of California, where the Department of Health fined 13 hospitals $25,000,000 for serious violations, while in some cases these violations resulted in the patients’ death.

These cases involved a variety of violations, including: medical equipment “forgotten” inside patients’ bodies during surgery, intravenous instead of subcutaneous administration of powerful drugs, resulting in brain damage, blood transfusion intended for another patient, resulting in the receiver’s death, etc.

In Cyprus, although the number of lawsuits registered remains at a low level for the time being, compared to other European countries, nevertheless it shows an increasing trend.

 Recently, the District Court of Nicosia charged a gynaecologist guilty of medical malpractice, because “through his actions and omissions he caused cerebral palsy to a new-born girl” and he was obliged to pay 2.5 euros as compensation.

It is also worth mentioning the case, in which the District Court of Paphos obliged doctors of the Nicosia General Hospital to pay compensation to a patient who was disabled, due to medical negligence. The sum reached the amount of 3 million euros, as a compensation for the permanent disability caused to the 39-year-old, former trainer and Olympic champion in Judo.

Given the above incidents, what can the absence of a full professional liability insurance cover cause?

In any case that a doctor is convicted of medical malpractice, this has a significant impact on their professional reputation, as well as huge financial costs for them. If they are not insured, this can be disastrous for them.

Even if the doctor is not charged for negligence, the cost of his defence can be prohibitive.

Recently the Pancyprian Medical Association announced: “No professional license is issued, unless a person practicing the profession of doctor, holds a valid insurance contract against civil liability for professional negligence”.

What is Professional Liability Insurance?

The medical profession is among the professions, for which insurance coverage is mandatory!

Professional Liability or Professional Indemnity Insurance, is a special type of cover that protects professionals, against their professions, i.e. that a professional service they provided has resulted to causing damage to the client, due to mistakes on their part, or because they failed to offer the service.

Insurance can cover the cost of defending a civil lawsuit, as well as certain damages, even if the legal action turns out to be unfounded.

Why choose SoEasy Insurance for Professional Liability Insurance?

SoEasy Insurance, with long-term expertise in the field of professional liability insurance, offers a full insurance coverage to healthcare professionals!

At SoEasy Insurance, as insurance brokers, we exclusively represent our clients, who wish to insure themselves by looking for the best solutions available in the market.

SoEasy Insurance’s professional liability products are designed to meet today’s demands and challenges of every profession, protecting businesses and professionals from the financial pressure a wrong piece of advice can have.

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