Legal Responsibility of Doctors in Pediatric Practice

Slobodan Savić

Abstract

The aim of this article is to analyze the problem of legal responsibility for medical negligence in general with a special focus on pediatrics, as well as to address the possible ways of avoiding medical malpractice. In some European countries, including Serbia and all ex-republics of the Former Yugoslavia, medical malpractice is regulated by the Criminal Code where health care workers may be held legally responsible for errors in diagnostics and treating processes. According to the Article 251 of the Serbian Criminal Code, a medical doctor who applies an obviously inappropriate means or methods of treatment, does not apply appropriate hygienic measures or in any other way generally obviously irresponsibly acts, may be sentenced to prison lasting between 3 months and 3 years if medical negligence caused worsening of patient’s health status is confirmed. If deterioration of the patient’s condition includes severe health impairment, medical doctor may be sentenced to 1 to 8 years in prison, while in cases of fatal outcome a legal verdict stipulates imprisonment from 2 to 12 years.

Conclusion − Most legal actions for medical negligence in countries with Anglo-Saxon system of law are organized within the common law, while the criminal responsibility is still part of the civil law jurisprudence of some European countries. In order to avoid an accusation for medical negligence, all medical doctors, including pediatricians, must follow principles of modern medical science and practice, and properly keep medical records which are the most important pieces of evidence in court procedures.

Keywords

Medical Negligence; Legal Responsibility; Pediatricians

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