Covid-19 Pandemic and Medical Liability in Italy: How to Balance the Protection of Healthcare Professionals and Patients

by Serena Cafarelli

The paper analyzes the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the medical liability regime in the Italian legal system. Italy has been one of the most impacted countries by the pandemic. Considering the huge number of infected patients and deaths, it is likely that the ‘sanitary pandemic’ will be followed by a ‘judiciary pandemic’. In reality, the emergency may expose healthcare practitioners to several claims of culpability based on negligence anytime a medical error is judged directly related to the patient’s injury, as in the event of misdiagnosis, poor treatment, or the death of Covid-19 positive people. The greatest risk is the underestimation of the complexities linked to the anomalous and unpredictable context within which the healthcare personnel have operated. The healthcare personnel faced challenges due to resource constraints and a lack of familiarity with the virus and its pathophysiology. In the absence of specific regulations to protect physicians’ accountability, it is necessary to establish the definition of medical liability within the civil law domain by utilizing existing standards, including those outlined in the Italian civil code and the ‘legge Gelli-Bianco’.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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