Aspects to Medical Negligence in Cyprus
Claims against the hospitals and doctors for medical negligence have risen dramatically following a succession of scandals which have arisen during the past few years affecting the health/endangerment of live to the others and at serious times even the cause of death of some. Amongst some of the remedies a patient can pursue include compensation (both general and specific). The protection of the human right to life, health care, safety and right to dignified treatment is afforded in Cyprus pursuant to the Safeguarding and Protection of the Patients' Rights Law of 2004, Law 1(I)/2005 and the Private Hospitals (Establishment and Operation Assessment) Law of 2001. The time bar in order to bring an action for medical negligence is within 3 years from the date of accrual of the tortious event and any claims brought after this period will be dismissed. It is important that the doctor should show the necessary care to the patient without necessarily having a contractual relationship or even any remuneration. This principle appears clearly in the case R v. Bateman (1925). Therefore, Patients visiting public hospitals have the same rights as patients visiting private hospitals.
Elements that need to be proved:
(i) That a duty of care was owed by the particular professional to the patient, an element which is never really a matter to be of issue in cases; (ii) That the duty was breached by the said professional by a negligent act or omission of same (iii)The patient suffered loss and damage (deterioration in the patient’s state of health and financial loss/ damage sustained due to the patient‘s state of health) which was (iv) the result of the conduct of the professional.
It is vital to note that the legal principles of medical law as per English law are followed also in Cyprus particularly for example that the measure of duty of care which is owed to the patient is to the “standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have that special skill” as was stated in the well-known case of Bolam v. Friern H.M.C. (1957). The main issue is always whether the particular error of the doctor in each separate case shows a failure of professional competence. Further to these issues, expert opinion is also necessary, in order to prove medical negligence and the duty of such an expert is to assist the Court to understand the scientific criteria required for each condition and treatment so that the Court is able to reach its own conclusions on the disputed matters taking into consideration the expert’s assistance on the said matters.
The remedies that can be awarded by the Court provided all of the above are satisfied are particularly damages in the form of special damages( for the financial loss suffered by the patient such as loss of earnings and the expenses incurred following the damage) and general damages for the pain, suffering and emotional distress suffered.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advise should be sought about your specific circumstances.