The Danish Supreme Court recently passed judgement in the so-called ‘Svendborg Case’ concerning the treatment of a male diabetic admitted to an emergency room for abdominal pain. The patient developed a severe hypoglycaemia and brain damage, and later died. Referencing para 75 of the Healthcare Authorization Act warranting fines or imprisonment, the prosecuting authority charged a young resident with gross negligence. While the resident was found not guilty, the case prompted a re-examination of the interpretation of para 75. This paper reviews the Svendborg Case and previous case law. When assessing the criminal liability of healthcare professionals, a number of themes emerge including severely inadequate patient examinations, hazardous use of drugs, essential surgical errors (‘wrong-side-surgery’ etc.) and utilization of perceptibly unlawful interventions. Section 75 seems to apply primarily when individuals diverge substantially from standard healthcare practices. From a more generic criminal law perspective, emphasis is placed upon a situational, manifest, and inexcusable deviation from commonly accepted norms (the ‘objective’ component; also emphasising repeated deviations). Furthermore, weight is put on the presence of premeditation or a particular degree of carelessness (lack of caution; a ’subjective’ component). Finally, there must be a potential for substantial injury with a plausible causal connection to the health professional’s action (or inaction), and which in the particular situation should be taken into account (’inter-subjective’ component). That said, it must be acknowledged that the boundaries between the aforementioned components are sometimes blurred.
|Tidsskrift||Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab|
|Status||Udgivet - 2018|