Social Contact Responsibility In The Medical Field


In the event of an unexpected occurrence with a patient in the medical field, a type of social contact liability occurs in the medical field when, despite the absence of a specific contract between parties, contractual rules are applied.

Medical liability is quite unique since, at present, both contractual and Aquilian (or non-contractual) are in force, based on the period in which the events occur and on the basis of the subject to which they are contested (medical personnel or structure).

A doctor is a professional who is burdened with protection obligations towards patients, even if their interactions are often casual and occasional. By virtue of the legal nature of liability, doctors are liable for damages caused by negligence, by virtue of the social contact that has been established.

Qualified social contact

According to the interpretation of social contact, the relationship that is established between the doctor and the patient is a qualified one, as the doctor is a professional with whom one approaches intentionally and not by quisque de populo (any person who meets by chance) and thus their relationship cannot be considered a relationship between two strangers, in which the only obligation is "neminen laedere" (to not offend).

The provision of the doctor automatically implies an obligation of protection towards the patient and the protection of their health. If their behavior somehow affects the patient's well-being, the doctor is at fault. Obviously, once social contact has been demonstrated, the professional must demonstrate that they have maintained diligent conduct.

This can be traced back to 1999, the year in which the jurisprudence (ruling) accepted de facto contractual relations, the same year that sentence n. 589 of the Court of Cassation was passed, when the notion was applied to the relationship between the doctor (dependent on the national health service) and the patient.

The sentence states: "the obligation of the doctor dependent on the national health service for professional liability towards a patient is contractual in nature, although not based on a physical contract but by social contact, characterized by the trust that the patient places on the professional. With regard to this liability, as for that of the managing body of the health service, the regimes for the sharing of the burden of proof, the degree of guilt and the prescription are those typical of professional intellectual work contract obligations".


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