RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

How is medical negligence handled abroad?

19th November 2021 Print

Medical negligence looks considerably different from one country to the next. In a global climate dominated by the pandemic, it’s easy to recognise growing international concern over standards of healthcare and medical treatment.

If you’re going abroad for a holiday or a business trip, it’s worth learning about how much legal procedures can vary concerning medical claims – unfortunately, we can’t expect the same familiar processes away from home.

Medical malpractice

Failure in healthcare isn’t just a continental issue. With over 600,000 fatalities, Brazil has the world’s second-highest official Covid-19 death toll and has received global backlash for its negligent response, deemed a crime against humanity. With lawmakers attempting to hold national leaders responsible, the mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak is at the top of a long list of complaints against global healthcare systems.

The primary disparity lies in the fact that healthcare systems operate either nationally or privately depending on the country. The World Health Organization reports that while 23% of European Union citizens claim to have been directly affected by a medical error, 18% also claim to have experienced a serious error in hospital. 

Procedural differences

In certain countries, reliable and credible health statistics remain limited. For example, the increased litigation in China for reporting medical malpractice underlines the barriers faced by patients in accessing any relationship with healthcare providers. Some crucial differences lie in the approaches taken by different national authorities:

- Judges vs. Juries

In Europe, most medical malpractice cases are handled by judges. As negligence doesn’t take a central role, pay-outs tend to be smaller than those in the United States, but victims also stand a higher chance of winning. In the US, most defendants are private individuals, and wealth and corruption play a huge role in maintaining the low success rate for victims, with verdicts decided by a jury.

- Civil vs. Criminal penalties

Many countries treat medical negligence as a criminal act, especially if it leads to life-changing injury or death of a patient. While cases in the U.S. are handled in civil courts, other countries incorporate more scrutiny in legal processes to deter lawyers from proceeding with unsubstantial or poorly backed claims. Canada, Australia, and European countries make the loser bear the other side’s legal fees.

If you need help understanding the complex differences in these international legal procedures, you could seek the advice of an experienced medical negligence solicitor for some peace of mind before you travel.