medical liability and damage assessment

responsabilidad medica


To the Supreme Court, There are three criteria that make up the assessment of damage when declaring the existence of medical liability.

Dichos criterios se recogen en su Sentencia de 8 April 2016, that solves a case about an operation that worsened the patient's condition.

In summer 1990, Don Erasmo suffered a severe blow to the head to jump into the sea in a cove in Menorca, que le causó una grave lesión en la columna vertebral.

Days later, the doctor said intervenirle surgery and after surgery, el diagnóstico definitivo fue de tetraplegia completa, que le obligaría permanentemente a ir en una silla de ruedas.

In order to slow down and minimize further degeneration, the optional proposed a new surgical operation for placement of a "box Hartschill" that would not prevent him over 8 days without rehabilitation.

The doctor did not inform the patient of the seriousness of this operation, or risks, or possible alternatives.

After the intervention, the patient deteriorated and lost movement in his arms.

Don Erasmo made demand for contractual liability Against Doctor, el Hospital General de Catalunya y la Compañía de Seguros Wintertur. quantity is claimed 393.142 euros, plus interest Article 20 Law of Insurance Contracts. He based his action on the damage suffered because of surgery, without first receiving information about the risks and possible consequences of that.

The Court of First Instance number 4 Barcelona gave judgment on 3 September 2012 partially estimating demand medical liability and condemning the Doctor and Wintertur (Axa today) payment of 60.101 euros plus interest.

Don Erasmo brought appeal and the Provincial Court of Barcelona (19th section) it dismissed in Case 29 May 2014. Se confirma la sentencia de la primera instancia under the following reasons:

  • the reporting obligations were not met Article 10.5 of the General Health Law.
  • risk patient was not informed that was submitted.
  • The responsibility of the physician is not technical for the practice of surgical medical act, sino causada por la falta de información sobre los riesgos de la intervención.

Así que el paciente, he went to Supreme Court, interposing appeal.

For the High Court, "Postulated compensation can not be extended to the whole of the damage suffered", namely, la indemnización debe acomodarse a la agravación del estado del paciente como consecuencia de la intervención pero no a la totalidad del daño padecido por quien ya se encontraba en una silla de ruedas.

One must distinguish between cases in which well-informed, the patient's decision would not have changed and therefore there would rise to compensation (STS 29 June 2007), the other in which, with sufficient information, the patient would have refused to intervention. In the latter cases, comes full compensation of the damage materialized (STS 21 October 2005).

Damage assessment should be made taking into:

1.- The total damage caused: It should be noted the lack of information and the probability that if the patient had known the possible consequences, is not subjected to the treatment had.

2.- The moral damage: In this section, debe tenerse en cuenta el perjuicio patrimonial sufrido por la lesión del derecho de autodeterminación, to physical and mental integrity and dignity.

3.- Lost opportunities or expectations: Para valorar este apartado se deben ponderar las circunstancias que se estimen relevantes desde el punto de vista de la responsabilidad médica como son la gravedad de la intervención, la existencia de otras alternativas o las posibilidades de fracaso de la intervención.

La Sala considera que estos criterios fueron valorados adecuadamente por la sentencia de la primera instancia. For the sake, The compensatory damages for the Court of First Instance and it is not possible to go to different facts declared proven by the Provincial Court.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court confirms the optional medical liability, y confirma la condena a indemnizar al paciente en 60.101 euros.

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