Abstract

BACKGROUND: On May 12, 2020, a symposium titled "Liability of healthcare professionals and institutions during COVID-19 pandemic" was held in Italy with the participation of national experts in malpractice law, hospital management, legal medicine, and clinical risk management. The symposium's rationale was the highly likely inflation of criminal and civil proceedings concerning alleged errors committed by health care professionals and decision makers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its aim was to identify and discuss the main issues of legal and medicolegal interest and thus to find solid solutions in the spirit of preparedness planning. METHODS: There were 5 main points of discussion: (A) how to judge errors committed during the pandemic because of the application of protocols and therapies based on no or weak evidence of efficacy, (B) whether hospital managers can be considered liable for infected health care professionals who were not given adequate personal protective equipment, (C) whether health care professionals and institutions can be considered liable for cases of infected inpatients who claim that the infection was transmitted in a hospital setting, (D) whether health care institutions and hospital managers can be considered liable for the hotspots in long-term care facilities/care homes, and (E) whether health care institutions and hospital managers can be considered liable for the worsening of chronic diseases. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Limitation of the liability to the cases of gross negligence (with an explicit definition of this term), a no-fault system with statal indemnities for infected cases, and a rigorous methodology for the expert witnesses were proposed as key interventions for successfully facing future proceedings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e299-e302
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Volume16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Legislation, Hospital
  • Liability, Legal
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2

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