Attorney Marco Farinella reports on an interesting and recent ruling (Supreme Court, 4th Division, 8 February 2022, no. 8613) in which the #Supreme Court clarifies exactly the concept of # illness in # personal injuries offences.
This annotated judgment is the outcome of a trial concerning the conduct of a surgical oncologist accused of failing – through negligence while not complying with the guidelines – to remove malignant lymph nodes from the ill patient, thus aggravating the patient’s overall pathological condition. In particular, the defendant is accused of not performing a percutaneous biopsy and intraoperative histopathological examination, thus increasing the survival risk and causing serious injuries to the patient. More specifically, the presiding judges have identified the latter as the reason for further surgical intervention, thus causing the patient to be unable to attend to their occupations during hospitalization and subsequent therapies. The ruling is noteworthy for its precise definition of the concept of “disease” to establish the crime of personal injury, which does not include all the alterations of an anatomical nature – which may be absent – but does include those causing a functional limitation or a significant pathological process or its aggravation, i.e., a significant impairment of the functions of the organism. The Court reiterates that since the legislator has attached great weight to time – necessary for the healing or for the definitive consolidation of the results of the personal injury – to determine the penalty, any negligent conduct that contributes to the time necessary to recover takes on criminal relevance. Therefore, the offence of personal injury through negligence is compounded by the healthcare professional’s wrongful conduct, which caused an extension of the time necessary to recover or stabilize the patient’s health.
# medical liability