The medico-legal implications in medical malpractice claims during Covid-19 pandemic: Increase or trend reversal?

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a marked increase in admissions to intensive care units. The critically ill patients’ condition from the infection resulted in their deaths. The healthcare facilities have got into trouble because of the pandemic. In fact, they had to create additional beds in a very short time and to protect health workers with personal protective equipment. Healthcare professionals fear that there will be an increase in complaints and medico-legal malpractice claims and hence they have urged politicians to discuss this. The Italian Parliament recently debated the topic of medical liability and passed the Decree-Law no. 18 of 17 March 2020 (DL – so called Cura Italia) by which they want to extend the concept of “gross negligence” to healthcare facilities. Several Extended Care Units have suffered from outbreaks of Covid-19, so the Prosecutor’s Office of several cities initiated investigations against them. This situation has reached Sicily, where the Prosecutor’s Office of Palermo has opened an inquiry against an Extended Care Unit. Simultaneously, the Covid-19 pandemic may change patients’ attitudes towards healthcare professionals, who are risking their lives daily. So the Italian medico-legal community is debating these questions, with one last pending question remaining: is the number of medico-legal claims likely to increase or trend down?

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