The County Court in Rijeka has handed down the largest award ever granted in Croatia in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Rijeka Clinical Hospital has lost a 13-year court battle and will have to pay 5.6 million kunas in damages to the plaintiff, a woman who barely survived her medical ordeal and is disabled as a result. In addition to the award, the hospital will also have to pay her a monthly sum for lost wages until she reaches retirement age.
“There are no more appeals. The hospital has reached a settlement with the attorney representing the family to avoid the possibility of medical services being disrupted. We've agreed to pay in monthly instalments," said Dubravka Prpić, the head of the legal department at Rijeka Clinical Hospital.
Health Minister Milan Kujundžić declined to comment on the legal aspects of the case but did say health care institutions must pay compensation to victims when such mistakes are made.
“I cannot comment on what happened in the legal sense. Unfortunately, if mistakes were made, hospitals have to pay damages," he said.
The plaintiff, a woman aged 44 at the time of the incident, was due to undergo a routine gynaecological procedure in 2006. Doctors made a mistake while administering anaesthesia, which resulted in a lack of oxygen flow to the patient’s brain. She spent several days in a coma and is now confined to a wheelchair, according to media reporting.