Medical liability - Portugal

In Portugal, we have increasingly seen cases in which the existence of error in medical acts is analysed, generating situations of responsibility for health professionals and institutions, with consequences for users and their families.

However, these cases may be framed in different aspects of the law, depending on the bond of the health professional and the medical act itself. The civil liability regime in public hospitals or in private clinics and/or offices is different, given that the State and other Entities' Extra-contractual Civil Liability Regime and the Civil Code rules apply to the former.

On the other hand, the liability for medical "bad practice" is, in most cases, associated to the error, consubstantiating an action or omission that violates the "leges artis" and causes a damage to the patient, falling, mainly, in the field of negligence, although if the action integrates the lack of expertise or prudence the legal consequences are different.

It is also important to bear in mind that the verification of the medical error does not imply tout court the imputation of civil responsibility to the professional who practices it, having to be fulfilled all the assumptions of that institute.

Thus, the correct analysis of the situation and its legal framework is essential for an adequate defense of the associated interests, and Belzuz Advogados has professionals with extensive experience in the analysis of situations of this nature, following the processes both in the extrajudicial and judicial phases.

 The Medical Liability department offers global advice in the following areas:

Medical negligence

By medical negligence, we mean those actions / omissions of health professionals that cause harm to a patient; not performing an x-ray in the correct manner, or not performing a CT scan before severe symptoms, delaying an operation more than would be prudent, or performing a surgical intervention incorrectly, are typical examples of medical negligence.

Medical negligence can be grouped into two major groups: errors / delays in treatment and errors / delays in diagnosis.

The consequences of medical negligence are primarily death, injury and/or prolonged recovery / convalescence time. In addition, the fact of having been a victim of medical negligence supposes additional psychological suffering; this is what is defined as moral damage. The injury may have been suffered by the patient, or by a close relative of the victim.

In Portugal, we have a National Health System that is recognized worldwide and despite the professionalism of our doctors, nurses and other health professionals, the overload of the system and the underfunding of means, are behind most of the medical negligence that occurs in our country.

When an injury (whatever it may be) occurs, the Health Administration (or its insurer) must compensate the injured patient; this is called medical liability.

When claiming compensation for alleged medical negligence, the technical and legal feasibility of the claim must be checked in advance.

To this end, Belzuz Abogados SLP - Sucursal em Portugal, puts at your disposal our team of lawyers with extensive experience in this area of activity, to verify the viability of your complaint and a firm of experts who will study the technical and specialized viability of your case.

Claiming compensation for damages is a matter of justice. Reporting medical malpractice does not have to be to the detriment of health professionals who work with a high level of dedication.

In addition, filing a complaint for care with problems also serves to ensure that the Health Administration (or the particular hospital in question), do not make the same mistake again, and improve the quality of care, which will be in everyone's interest.

Administrative route

In Portugal, much of the health care provision is provided by the public sector, namely within the network established by the National Health Service (SNS).

Within the extended healthcare network, the division between the public and private sectors is distinct, given the existence of numerous private healthcare providers in areas such as palliative care and senior homes. In this sense, if the facts that are the object of the complaint have occurred in the public sphere, the person responsible for the damages that may have occurred in the provision of health care is the Public Administration. Given that our Constitution and laws establish the obligation to compensate individuals for the damages caused to them by the Public Administration, the filing of an administrative action against the Public Administration will be the most appropriate way.

The administrative route is suitable for cases where the complaint must be filed against the Public Administration. A claim for damages shall be made in the administrative route.

The process, even with a long processing period, allows the hearing of the interested party and, if requested, expert reports can be issued that reflect the contours of health and medical assistance. In particular, the request for analysis of the behaviour to the Medical-Legal Council of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which issues technical-scientific opinions in the most complex cases of medical responsibility, will be appropriate. This body will be responsible for determining whether the complaint is viable or whether, on the other hand, the request should be refused.

At the end of this phase, a judgement is obtained which considers the claim to be well-founded or unfounded and arbitrates compensation to repair the damage suffered.

Civil way

The civil procedure is suitable for cases where the claim must be made against a private individual, company or insurer. The civil action is exclusively a claim for damages. The civil action has a duration of approximately one and a half years since the legal action was filed. However, in civil proceedings, a settlement can be obtained before the conflict is judged, which may lead to the minimization of costs.

The civil way is the way to complain before private law subjects (private elderly homes, private hospitals...). The civil way is also the way to complain before an insurance company of health care providers (senior residences, private hospitals...).

The civil way is faster than the administrative route and administrative litigation, but it contemplates a greater risk in case the lawsuit is not considered justified: the imposition of court costs according to the amount claimed.

Criminal way

By the criminal way, the supposed realization of a crime (offense to physical integrity, homicide, violation of leges artis in the realization of medical-surgical interventions and treatments) can be pursued by the action or omission of natural persons or, in very concrete cases, the criminal responsibility of legal persons can be demanded. The criminal way is, perhaps, one with the longest duration, since it is articulated in two well differentiated phases: the instruction (or investigation) and the litigious phase in which one decides on the investigated facts (the hearing of discussion and judgment).

This also occurs because, during the criminal phase, many elements are involved that are beyond the control of the Lawyers, such as, for example, the participation of the Ministério Público. However, in this way it is up to the Ministério Público to investigate the facts complained of, which reduces the costs associated with the process.

The criminal procedure involves not only demanding compensation for the damage suffered, but also condemning the alleged perpetrator of the damage to deprivation of liberty.


More information about the Medical Liability Department | (Portugal)

Traumatología y Cirugía Ortopédica

Traumatología y Cirugía Ortopédica es, junto con la Ginecología y Obstetricia, una de las especialidades más reclamadas en España.

Fracturas, hernias y otras lesiones tendinosas tienen un impacto notable sobre la calidad de vida de las personas, no sólo desde un punto de vista funcional, sino también por el dolor que producen y que, en ocasiones, puede resultar fuertemente incapacitante.

Las patologías que afectan a la mecánica del cuerpo no sólo son consecuencia de fenómenos agudos (un accidente de tráfico, una caída…), sino también se pueden producir por procesos repetitivos (coger pesos de manera inadecuada, posiciones forzadas por el desempeño profesional) o, sencillamente, por procesos degenerativos o crónicos (artrosis, hernias, prótesis de rodilla o cadera…).

El tratamiento de este tipo de patologías puede resultar especialmente complejo por la multitud de factores que contribuyen a que se produzca un buen resultado en el tratamiento. Del mismo modo, somos conscientes de que el proceso de recuperación y rehabilitación es muy exigente para los pacientes y no siempre da los resultados deseados.

Si bien es cierto que no todos los factores que influyen en el resultado final de un tratamiento están bajo el control de los profesionales de la salud, desde ESM Reclamación Sociosanitaria consideramos que un diagnóstico precoz y certero, a través de un estudio completo y adecuado de las pruebas de imagen (Radiografías, TAC…), así como un tratamiento cuidadosamente planificado y adaptado a las características del paciente (controlando los tiempos de rehabilitación y, en su caso, de intervención) son de vital importancia para minimizar las consecuencias de la patología. Cualquier error o negligencia por parte de los profesionales de la salud puede tener consecuencias irreversibles y provocar una pérdida definitiva de calidad de vida.

Las demoras en los tratamientos quirúrgicos, los retrasos en los procesos de rehabilitación o, sencillamente, un abordaje quirúrgico no adecuado puede suponer no sólo la prolongación innecesaria del proceso de recuperación, sino también la consolidación de un cuadro de limitación funcional o, incluso, de un cuadro residual de dolor.

El hecho de que haya sufrido una lesión no es indemnizable, pero el hecho de que no se haya diagnosticado o tratado de forma correcta sí lo es; si considera que se ha cometido un error o ha habido mala praxis, haya sido en un hospital público o privado, tiene derecho a reclamar y a ser indemnizado por el error/retraso en el diagnóstico o en el tratamiento.

Desde el Departamento de Responsabilidad médica de Belzuz Abogados queremos ayudarle y asesorarle clarificando y simplificando los procesos; si cree que ha sido víctima de una negligencia médica, no lo dude: póngase en contacto con nosotros y examinaremos su caso.


Más información sobre el Departamento de Responsabilidad médica | (Portugal)

Cirugía General y del Aparato Digestivo

La Cirugía General y del Aparato Digestivo es una especialidad compleja cuya patología requiere de tratamientos invasivos en los que se da un número elevado de lo que se conoce como “cirugías sucias”. Por ello, no es extraño que se produzcan resultados indeseables tanto en la intervención quirúrgica, como en el seguimiento postoperatorio.

Esta especialidad comprende, no solo la cirugía del aparato digestivo y la pared abdominal, sino que también implica la cirugía de mama y proctológica, dos de las áreas anatómicas más complejas y que requieren un especial cuidado en el abordaje quirúrgico.

Los cirujanos generales tratan un amplio abanico de patologías: desde una sencilla apendicitis, hasta procesos complejos asociados a patologías crónicas y autoinmunes (Crohn…) o procesos tumorales.

El ámbito de responsabilidad de los cirujanos generales no se circunscribe tan sólo al quirófano, sino que se extiende tanto en las indicaciones de los tratamientos (habitualmente quirúrgicos) y en el control inmediatamente posterior a la cirugía. Las consecuencias indeseables de un evento adverso en Cirugía General implican gravísimos problemas para los pacientes en su día a día y pueden condicionar, a perpetuidad, su calidad de vida o, incluso, su fallecimiento.

La lesión más frecuente en cirugía general es la perforación. A pesar del tiempo transcurrido desde la implantación de la técnica laparoscópica en España y de la simplificación de los procedimientos quirúrgicos, hoy en día, sigue siendo elevado el número de perforaciones que se producen. Del mismo modo, los cuadros infecciosos tras la cirugía, con consecuencias potencialmente letales, siguen siendo una tónica habitual en los Servicios de Cirugía General de los hospitales españoles.

Desde el Departamento de Responsabilidad médica de Belzuz Abogados queremos aportar, desde la exigencia y el rigor profesional, a que nuestros clientes consigan una compensación de los daños que pueden haber sufrido como consecuencia de un evento adverso en el ámbito de la Cirugía General. Para ello, estudiamos tu caso, te ayudamos y te asesoramos; si crees que has sido víctima de un error o negligencia médica, no lo dudes: ponte en contacto con nosotros.


Más información sobre el Departamento de Responsabilidad médica | (Portugal)

Urgencias y Medicina Interna

Medicina Interna es una especialidad clínica que tiene por objeto la asistencia sanitaria no quirúrgica del adulto. Los internistas se encargan de la atención de muy diversas patologías tales como enfermedades autoinmunes, hormonales, infecciosas… El elenco de pacientes que suelen pasar por las manos de los internistas es muy variado, lo que les exige un elevado nivel de conocimientos sobre el manejo de la sintomatología de enfermedades muy distintas. El Servicio de Medicina Interna constituye la espina dorsal de los hospitales españoles: no sólo determinan la conveniencia de realizar pruebas diagnósticas complementarias, sino que también orientan la mayor parte de los diagnósticos clínicos y, como no podía ser de otra forma, la mayor parte de los diagnósticos que se efectúan en los servicios de Urgencias.

El error más común en Medicina Interna es el error/retraso en el diagnóstico debido a una incorrecta interpretación de la clínica o a una insuficiente actitud diagnóstica (falta de exploración, falta de indicación de pruebas complementarias…). Los errores en el diagnóstico y en el tratamiento de una patología pueden tener consecuencias fatales y/o irreversibles.

Al elevado nivel de exigencia al que se encuentran sometidos los internistas en planta se añade, en los servicios de Urgencias, la presión y el estrés lo que, unido a unos medios cada vez más escasos, conduce a la materialización de eventos adversos de manera frecuente.

Como abogados expertos en responsabilidad sanitaria, nos encontramos altamente familiarizados con la problemática que entrañan los servicios de Medicina Interna y los servicios de Urgencias.

El Departamento de Responsabilidad médica de Belzuz Abogados está a tu disposición para guiarte a través del proceso de reclamación, para aclararte las dudas y para garantizar que, cuando tomes la decisión de reclamar, tienes toda la información que necesitas. Ponte en contacto con nosotros: examinaremos tu caso.


Más información sobre el Departamento de Responsabilidad médica | (Portugal)

Laboral risks

All workers, whether public or private, have the right to exercise their activity in conditions of safety and health at work. Contagions, accidents and occupational diseases must be compensated when they cause a violation of safety and health rules at work.

In Portugal, employers must make the necessary means of protection available to their workers to prevent them from suffering any damage during working time.

In addition, employers must also adapt the jobs to the specific needs that workers may have. In the same way, public workers also have the right to work under safe conditions. To this end, the Public Administration has the obligation to provide the necessary protective materials (or implement the necessary adaptation measures) to ensure that public workers work in a safe environment. Healthcare professionals, members of the security forces, firefighters... they all constitute society's first barrea of protection. We must protect and care for them so that they can provide their services.

At Belzuz Abogados SLP - Sucursal em Portugal we have a team of lawyers with extensive experience in monitoring work accident processes and recognition of occupational diseases, who can assist any injured party or employer in defining the responsibilities associated with a situation of possible violation of safety and health rules at work.


More information about the Medical Liability Department | (Portugal)

Senior residencies

We owe our elders a debt in the last stage of their lives. With the bustle of daily life, we cannot share all the time we want with them, and so we rely on senior homes and other establishments of this nature to look after them.

The decision to take our seniors into a home is not easy. Leaving our father/mother in the hands of strangers requires an effort from the whole family; that is why we demand from these institutions, in return, that they spare no resources and personnel so that our elderly are well looked after.

Unfortunately, in recent times, the quality of the care our elderly receive has been the subject of news in all the media: abandoned elderly people, mistreated or even mistreated by those who were supposedly responsible for them. This kind of situation, which may even result in injuries, is susceptible to civil liability; that is, negligence in the performance of duties in elderly residences and retirement homes may not only lead to an investigation of the facts and the adoption of corrective measures, but also to possible compensation. Falls, a lack of hygiene, the lack of follow-up in some homes is becoming one of the problems we have not been able to solve as a society.

The lack of attention to our elderly by public or private homes can give rise to different actions, all of which lead to re-establishing the best living conditions for those relatives we most want or trying to repair the damage caused.

At Belzuz Abogados SLP - Branch in Portugal we have a team of lawyers with extensive experience in following up on liability cases for lack of adequate care in senior residences, homes and palliative care providers.


More information about the Medical Liability Department | (Portugal)





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