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Medical malpractice in Colombia

August 08, 2023

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Medical malpractice in Colombia

About Medical Malpractice

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers a comprehensive definition of healthcare malpractice. It essentially falls into three primary categories:

  • Negligence and Unjustified Incompetence in Medical Practice:
  • This involves a doctor demonstrating negligent behavior or unjustifiable incompetence while carrying out a medical task.

  • Negligent Non-compliance Resulting in Patient Harm:
  • The second facet involves the judicial determination that a healthcare professional has negligently deviated from the accepted standard of care, consequently causing injury or loss to a patient.

  • Unethical Conduct, Inappropriate Conduct or Incompetence by a Professional:
  • The third component of healthcare malpractice, includes inappropriate or unethical behavior or unjustifiable incompetence by a person in a professional position.

What is medical malpractice in Colombia?

Medical malpractice, also known in Colombia as medical liability, is defined as any medical service performed in an inadequate or careless manner that results in serious damage or harm to the patient.

For medical malpractice in Colombia to happen, there must be damage to the patient and a direct relationship between the patient and the medical professional who caused said damage. Hence, medical malpractice is the consequence of a careless conduct that leads to the breach of duties and obligations of health professionals.

Which laws regulate medical malpractice in Colombia?

The law that regulates medical malpractice in Colombia is:

Law 23 of 1981, On Standards in Medical Ethics.

In Colombia, most of the regulations surrounding medical malpractice and medical liability have been developed through jurisprudence and judges rulings. Hence, it has been mostly a task of judges across the country to establish the legal parameters for medical malpractice in Colombia.

Consultation with experienced attorneys

What elements constitute medical liability?

In Colombia, the configuration of medical civil liability requires three (3) basic elements of civil liability.

They are:

  1. Damage.
  2. Harmful behavior.
  3. Causal link (between the damage and the harmful conduct).

Medical malpractice requires a harmful behavior from the health professional or clinic to configure liability and that such action or actions inflicted harm on the patient. Thus, there needs to be a connection between the damage given to the patient and the conducts performed by the healthcare professional in order for medical liability to occur.

Most common types of medical malpractice

The following are the most common types of medical malpractice:

Negligence or lack of skill

This type of medical malpractice happens when a healthcare professional lacks sufficient expertise or skill to correctly interpret a patient's signs and symptoms, leading to a flawed diagnosis. It can also take place when the medical professional doesn't have adequate training to execute any diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.

Medical negligence can encompass situations of inexperience. If such inexperience leads to harm or injury, the patient has the right to seek compensation.

Medical recklessness

It occurs when a healthcare professional performs an action recklessly, thus endangering the life or recovery of their patient. This type of action is foreseeable from an objective point of view.

An example of medical recklessness is a healthcare professional working with a patient to the point of exhaustion.

Mistake during surgery

A surgical error occurs when a surgeon makes a mistake during a medical procedure that causes injury to a patient. There are several types of surgical errors:

  • Improper suture work
  • Wrong site surgery
  • Damage to organs and nerves
  • Among others.

Diagnostic error

Diagnostic Error (DE) is defined as a failure to accurately and timely explain the patient's health problem, or to communicate that explanation to the patient. Hence, it is a situation in which a patient's diagnosis is completely omitted, inappropriately delayed, and/or erroneous based on definitive information.

Hospital acquired infections

In-hospital or nosocomial infections are transmissible infectious processes that occur after the first 48 to 72 hours of hospitalization and that were not present or in the incubation period at the time of admission. Additionally, they can also manifest themselves up to 72 hours after discharge.

How to sue for medical malpractice in Colombia?

When a patient sees themselves affected negatively by a procedure or medical intervention of a health professional and is planning to sue for medical malpractice, it will be fundamental to hire a specialized attorney in Colombia.

A lawyer or attorney in Colombia will assist through the suing process, presenting the lawsuit through a power of attorney.

Additionally, if the lawsuit is filed or is within the jurisdiction of the contentious-administrative jurisdiction, it is necessary to previously exhaust the requirement of pre-judicial conciliation.

The claim filed in the ordinary civil jurisdiction expires after 10 years, and the claim filed before the contentious-administrative jurisdiction expires after 2 years. In both cases, counted from the day following the occurrence of the medical act causing the damage.

Seeking legal advice for medical malpractice in Colombia?

In conclusion, medical malpractice can be a complex area of law, with numerous nuances that can greatly influence the outcome of a case. For victims, navigating this legal labyrinth can be an overwhelming burden, on top of the emotional and physical toll. Having professional guidance will be key when filing the respective lawsuits in order to receive adequate compensation.

At AGT Attorneys, our specialized team in medical malpractice cases has the knowledge and experience to provide comprehensive legal support, making a difficult situation more manageable.

We're committed to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been affected by medical malpractice, don't hesitate to contact AGT Attorneys.

Write to us on our Contact Form, schedule your legal appointment with our lawyers through the following link or contact us at +57 310 5706331.

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