Clinical negligence: the real cases and legal aspects

AnaesthesiaA 12 years old teenager was brought to the hospital with the diagnosis of appendicitis. During anesthesia, he stopped breathing. The measures to revive the patient were unsuccessful. It turned out that instead of a cylinder with oxygen the machine was connected to the cylinder with carbon dioxide. As a result: the lethal outcome was caused by poisoning with carbon dioxide. The actions of the doctor responsible for anesthesia were qualified as causing death by negligence.

A nurse had to inject a solution of bromine intravenously. Taking from the medical cabinet, from the place where usually stood bromine bottle of colorless liquid, and not paying attention to the label, the nurse completed an injection. Immediately after injection convulsions in the patient have started. Despite the measures taken, the patient died within an hour. It turned out that instead of bromine the nurse has introduced 10 ml of tetracaine. Her actions were qualified as causing death by negligence.

Before the surgery, the abortion doctor instead of novocaine introduced ammonia locally. The consequence was the death of the vagina, rectum, urinary bladder and ureter. The measures taken to rescue the life were taken, but the result was a disability in the patient. The doctor was destined for causing grievous bodily harm through negligence.

informed consentResponsibility for crimes against life and health may occur as a result of the unlawful use of methods of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, immune-biological preparations, disinfectants, and biomedical research. The application of the methods, tools and studies are established in the Fundamentals of Legislation on Health Protection, according to which it is possible to use only approved methods, tools and research methods. The law allows a range of exceptions, but the methods of diagnosis, treatment and medicines can be taken advantage of only after receiving a patient’s voluntary written consent (while in persons younger than 15 years – a written agreement of their legal representatives). In the UK the consent is produced mainly through the help of a legal agency: thus, for example, solicitors.guru, a legal startup that helps you find a solicitor with ease, admit that currently almost 1753 accredited medical negligence solicitors work in the UK.

Medical activity is inconceivable without experimentation, as well as any other science. However, the specific medical experiment is that it may not always be completed in vitro and requires only a final check on the human body, which is closely interconnected with the risk of harmful effects. In such cases, the medical action can be taken by way of innovation, from a legal point of view, must meet two essential conditions:

  1. it must be carried out for the benefit of treatment;
  2. innovative tools and methods should be required to pass a preliminary test on animals. Such verification is considered sufficient if it is proved the positive results can be obtained, which in itself does not exclude a certain degree of risk. The risk is mainly related to the health of the individual patient: the harder and more dangerous the patient’s condition is (not treatable by conventional means), the wider the risk range can be justified.