OBJECTIVES: Italy is experiencing a crisis of malpractice litigation with important repercussions on the insurance industry (e.g., lower profits), physicians (e.g., defensive medicine), and the courts (e.g., work backlog, lengthy proceedings). We searched for common ground between legal systems in Italy and the United States and considered the implications for international collaborations in patient safety. METHODS: We examined the judicial frameworks of medical malpractice litigation in two countries with different legal foundations: the United States (a public-private system governed by common law) and Italy (a publicly financed healthcare system governed by civil law). RESULTS: We found important differences and similarities across the two systems that suggest a high compatibility for future comparisons and collaborations. Although many Italian hospitals maintain risk management programs, the U.S. emphasis on patient safety and quality has not yet been integrated into Italian healthcare systems. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our findings, we propose that the Italian system might benefit from assertively adopting some concepts from the U.S. system. In particular, we consider the role of the law and Italian medicolegal experts as key facilitators for the integration of patient safety and risk management units within Italian healthcare facilities.
- RISK MANAGEMENT, MEDICAL LIABILITY