The contractual liability of private healthcare establishments
Private healthcare establishments are bound by numerous obligations of a contractual nature.
“But whereas, firstly, by virtue of the contract for hospitalisation and care binding it to its patient, a private health establishment is required to provide the patient with qualified care, in particular by making available doctors who can intervene within the time limits imposed by their condition […] ;
And whereas, next, the Court of Appeal, having noted that the delay of the anaesthetist, attributable to the clinic’s lack of organisation, had resulted in a lack of oxygen for the child, causing cerebral suffering and its after-effects, was able to decide that his fault was related to the child’s entire injury”.
Cass.civ.1, 15 December 1999 n°97-22.652
Thus, an establishment is liable for its fault in the organisation of the service.
Furthermore, the health establishment is not exonerated from faults committed in its service by the fact that the doctor could also have committed faults.
This means that a patient may be able to invoke the cumulative liability of the various parties involved, and have them both held responsible, with the judge having to assess the extent of each party’s responsibility.
To ensure that care is properly organised, healthcare establishments must provide patients with a sufficient number of qualified staff.
In addition, staff must be trained in the use of the clinic’s equipment:
“In addition, it noted that although the clinic had technical equipment that complied with the latest obstetric science, the staff made available to parturients had not received sufficient training to enable them to use it; it thus found that Mrs B had difficulty reading a monitoring trace; that it was therefore justified in considering that this lack of organisation constituted a fault on the part of the clinic; that lastly, it characterised the causal link between the fault thus accepted and the damage suffered, insofar as it noted that the midwife had administered medication without monitoring that would have made it possible to detect foetal suffering”.
Cass. civ. 1, 7 July 1998, no. 97-10.869
If you have been the victim of organisational negligence on the part of a private healthcare establishment, DAMY can help you.