How clinical negligence has changed since the 90’s

Professional activities of health workers are characterised by an increased risk. On the one hand, health care workers at risk of their own health and life, on the other – there is a risk of adverse outcome of medical care for the patient (defective medical assistance). In the process of patient care doctor takes on both moral and legal responsibility for the quality and impact of her actions. The most negative outcomes of treatment are likely to end with a complaint or a lawsuit if there’s an evidence or assumption of medical errors, illegal acts or negligence on the doctor’s side.

The relations between health professionals and patients have a certain degree of duality and contradictions. On the one hand, health care workers must protect the interests of patients, but on the other – they need to be protected from the patient, especially in cases of defect rendering, complaint or legal action. This contradiction in all civilised countries are the inevitable companions of modern medicine, new technologies and growth of legal consciousness of the patient.

In connection with the formation of civil relations between producer and consumer of medical services there is legal  liability for adverse outcomes – the damage caused to health. A doctor carrying out her professional activities, are constantly at risk of being subjected to such sanctions. This is due to the fact that advances in medical science have led to an unsustainable growth expectations, which puts people at the doctor, as well as significant complications of medical technologies. The cases of allergic reactions are less predictable, and the very use of instrumental methods of diagnosis sometimes presents a potential danger to the health of the patient. In addition, the expanded awareness of the rights results into increased demands as for complying with the provisions of the medical and human ethics in medicine personnel.

International statistics and financial losses

The proportion of defect rendering against the background of medical errors is pretty huge. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, as a result of preventable medical errors in US hospitals each year are from 44 to 98 thousand people are killed (the independent sources mention 440.000 of lethal outcomes), and this indicator in either event is rated 8th in the list of the leading causes of death. However, the report only took into account all recognised (proven) adverse consequences of erroneous interventions that have occurred accidentally or unintentionally, and resulted in death. In fact, medical errors occur much more frequently. Targeted research in US hospitals shows that adverse events occur in 10% of patients. In the United States alone from 1991 to 1994 the number of lawsuits by patients on medical errors has doubled and amounted to 800 thousand annually. In the UK, according to, a prominent legal startup gaining momentum at a rapid speed, the number of successful medical negligence solicitors cases has doubled since 2003.

In the US, the annual number of complaints received on doctors was 0.2 for every 100 doctors in 1985, 6.4 – in 1988, 14.4 – in 1994, while in Canada in 1994, one out of every 27 doctor was involved in accountability, and for the past 10 years, this figure has been relatively stable.