Historians still argue about the authorship of the ‘Errare humanum est’ (Humans tend to make mistakes) expression, which later became winged. Some believe that it was first uttered in the V century BC by Greek poet Euripides. Others argue that Cicero, who once said, ‘To err is human, but the one persisting in errors is a fool’; another popular remark mentions the doctors of antiquity, who used to say that medicine is the history of human errors.
Talking about human mistakes and errors is difficult, especially when it comes to health care services. Nevertheless, there is no sphere of activity, where the issue has been studied as thoroughly as in medicine. This is due to the fact that the consequences of the doctor’s mistake are especially serious and may lead to a disability or even death.
The reasons behind errors can be either objective or subjective. The first type is mostly associated with diversity of views in the treatment of certain diseases. The therapeutic complex of measures, which was previously considered to be the most efficient, from the point of view of modern scientific approaches can be regarded to as incorrect. It also comprises errors made by doctors in their interaction with patients by virtue of non-compliance with basic deontological principles. Any doctor is not free from professional mistakes, just like any representative of any specialty. However, due to the peculiarities of their profession, their work acquires an increased social significance. A pilot error, resulting in the death of hundreds of people at the same time, for some reason, is treated as a ‘human factor’. Maybe this is due to the peculiarities of the profession. Continue reading
In judicial practice the number of cases when the clinic is also held liable for the acts of one of its employees is slowly, but gradually increasing. The situation becomes more complicated if a medical error occurred after, for example, the physician sent a patient for further treatment to other specialists. If the damage is caused by employee of the clinic, the patient can use several options to protect their violated rights: to file a claim against a particular individual (a physician), by the virtue of efforts of which, in his opinion, the damage was made; against the clinic or against both, attracting clinic as a respondent. In practice, a better part of claims is brought against the health institutions (clinics). Importantly, an institution’s (clinic) responsibilities include: providing medical care for patients and being liable for the negligence of its employees.
The issue of liability of clinic currently remains a controversial and debated question, not only in the legal literature, but also in judicial practice. The decision on this important issue also depends on the health system adopted in the state or region and the relations that govern patient-doctor relations by the law. This issue has repeatedly been considered at the highest level and in the jurisprudence of the Anglo-American legal system, where the approach to it is quite flexible.
In Australia, in Ellis case against Hospital in Wallsend District the Court has made a decision by a majority vote, that ‘the clinic is jointly and severally liable in cases where the patient can go directly to the hospital for treatment or consultation. This responsibility does not occur when the clinic simply provides that services used treatment approaches used in their institution’.
In another case, the Ontario Court of Appeal decided that ‘the duties are not limited to a simple hospital hiring of competent staff’. In establishing the fact whether there was the fact of negligence, the courts adheres to the same definitions that are used in the determination of any other civil lawsuits or criminal cases. Therefore, in the UK the narrow specialisation is on the rise – according to Solicitors.Guru, one of the largest legal databases in the UK where anyone can find a solicitor easily, the number of medical negligence solicitors has increased by 15% in comparison with 2014.
In medical practice, ‘accident’ is widely utilised, which in its origin is substantially different from a medical error, because it does not depend on any actions or omissions of the physician. However, an ‘accident’ is treated as a medical error until the circumstances and details are figured out. The majority of professionals use the term ‘accident’ in situations where an unfavorable outcome is related to accidental circumstances, ‘force majeure’, ie the outcome doctor simply couldn’t foresee and prevent. The accidents include:
1. Unforeseen complications or death due to allergic or toxic reactions when using drugs or prophylactic vaccination, used in accordance with the instructions;
2. Sudden death before or during the operation because of the mental or emotional shock;
3. Postoperative complications (air embolism or bleeding);
4. Reflex cardiac arrest during the manipulation (angiography, pyelography, EGD, cardiac catheterisation, and etc.).
Medical errors are considered to be improper acts or omissions in the performance of professional duties by a health care worker, which are not the result of bad faith and do not have signs of a crime or misdemeanor.
The concept of ‘medical error’ itself is not new, and even the appropriate penalties have been issued throughout the history of mankind. In Roman law the term ‘error’ was widely used, including the cases related to medical practice (Aquilia law). The concept included inexperience, negligence, and failure to provide assistance. In the 19th century progressive doctors have seen throughout the analysis and study of medical errors came to a conclusion that their elimination bears a major potential for healthcare area improvement. Ralph Emerson wrote that every conscientious person, especially a teacher, must have an inner need to publish error and therefore warn less competent people. Continue reading