Quantifying the Economics of Medical Malpractice: a view from a civil law perspective
Een kwantitatieve analyse van medische aansprakelijkheid
Life is full of uncertainties. Legal rules should have a clear intention, motivation and purpose in order to diminish daily uncertainties. However, practice shows that their consequences are complex and hard to predict. For instance, tort law has the general objectives of deterring future negligent behavior and compensating the victims of someone else’s negligence. Achieving these goals are particularly difficult in medical malpractice cases. To start with, when patients search for medical care they are typically sick in the first place. In case harm materializes during the treatment, it might be very hard to assess if it was due to substandard medical care or to the patient’s poor health conditions. Moreover, the practice of medicine has a positive externality on the society, meaning that the design of legal rules is crucial: for instance, it should not result in physicians avoiding practicing their activity just because they are afraid of being sued even when they acted according to the standard level of care. The empirical literature on medical malpractice has been developing substantially in the past two decades, with the American case being the most studied one. Evidence from civil law tradition countries is more difficult to find. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the empirical literature on medical malpractice, using two civil law countries as a case-study: Spain and Italy. The goal of this thesis is to investigate, in the first place, some of the consequences of having two separate sub-systems (administrative and civil) coexisting within the same legal system, which is common in civil law tradition countries with a public national health system (such as Spain, France and Portugal). When this holds, different procedures might apply depending on the type of hospital where the injury took place (essentially whether it is a public hospital or a private hospital). Therefore, a patient injured in a public hospital should file a claim in administrative courts while a patient suffering an identical medical accident should file a claim in civil courts. A natural question that the reader might pose is why should both administrative and civil courts decide medical malpractice cases? Moreover, can this specialization of courts influence how judges decide medical malpractice cases?