Medical error and responsibility for it

According to article 85 of part 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, every citizen has the right to health protection and, accordingly, the right to medical care. Part 2 of this article of the current Constitution specifies the list of free basic medical services and the procedure for their provision.

It is very important for every citizen of the Republic of Armenia to get not just medical care, but high-quality medical care. However, in the current reality, it is impossible to get a guarantee for getting a high-quality medical result in any medical institution.

As practice shows, RA citizens often face medical errors for various reasons.

Medical error implies that certain actions (actions/omissions) of the medical worker led to the deterioration of the patient’s condition, or led to his death.
            As a rule, the reason for such an error on the part of specialists is negligence and disregard for the established rules of medical care.

The Republic of Armenia does not define the concept of medical error at the legislative level, as in other countries, which causes some difficulties in court proceedings. However, this circumstance does not prevent the prosecution of the guilty specialists.

To protect the violated rights of patients, it is necessary to turn to professional lawyers, since the burden of proving the negligent and dishonest act of the doctor lies on the patient.

The conflict between the patient and the medical worker can be resolved both in a pre-trial order and in a judicial one.

In the pre-trial procedure, the guilty persons bear disciplinary responsibility.

To impose a disciplinary penalty on the victim, it is enough to simply submit an application (complaint) to the chief doctor. It will check the quality of the relevant doctor’s work and take appropriate measures as a result.

If a medical error has caused significant impact to the detriment of the patient such as the emergence of another disease, disability, causing serious injury, you should contact the Ministry of health, State health Agency of Armenia.

In order to recover compensation for property and moral damage, the victim must apply exclusively to the judicial authority.

There are two forms of liability that can be brought against a guilty health worker in a court of law:

1) civil liability

2) criminal liability

Civil liability

Civil liability is regulated by articles 1080 and 1083 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Armenia.

Civil law measures include compensation for health damage and compensation for non-pecuniary damage

The Armenian legislator has not established a specific formula for calculating the amount of compensation. The victim must calculate the required amount himself, taking into account that it must be real and reasonable. The patient has the burden of proving the validity of the required amount by providing appropriate checks or receipts, as well as arguing for the required amount of moral compensation.

The judge at the legislative level has the exclusive right to reduce the amount of the required amount, if he considers that it is overstated.

Criminal liability

In order to initiate criminal liability for medical error, it is required to submit a forensic medical examination report on significant harm to the patient’s health or on the occurrence of his death.

Criminal liability arises only if the injured person’s health has been seriously harmed. Under the law, a medical worker cannot be held criminally responsible for causing moderate or light damage.

A decision on a criminal case of medical error is made on the basis of the conclusion of a forensic medical examination, therefore, this document is important when filing a claim in court.

Until today, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia lacks a separate, special norm regulating the issue of medical error. However, there are several articles that establish the degree of punishment for a medical error in a particular situation.

For example, article 112 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia “Intentional infliction of serious harm to health” States that intentional infliction of bodily injury or other serious harm to health that is life-threatening or causing other harm to health that involves the permanent loss of General working capacity of at least one third is punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to seven years.

It is very important to note that if a criminal case is initiated, the victim has the right to file a civil claim for compensation for the damage caused in monetary terms. This right is noted in article _ _ of the code of criminal procedure of the Republic of Armenia.

Otherwise, after a verdict has been passed against the guilty person, a claim for compensation for property and moral damage can only be demanded through civil proceedings. Based on Part 2 of Art. __ of the RA Criminal Procedure Code, if the doctor is not guilty, the court will reject the claim.

Thus, in the Republic of Armenia, there are three types of liability for medical errors, which differ in the type and degree of punishment.

At the same time, it is necessary to understand that in order to bring the guilty specialist to appropriate responsibility and in order to obtain compensation for the harm caused to the patient, the victim will need to make a lot of effort and turn to professional lawyers specializing in medical cases.