‘Negligence Is Not Coterminous With Careless Acts’ – Ghana Medical Association General Secretary.

General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Justice Yankson has explained that not every bad experience with a health facility should be construed as medical negligence.

“Technically speaking, negligence is not coterminous with careless acts,” he said.

Dr Yankson said, “in a straight legal analysis, negligence means more than a careless conduct, whether in omission or commission. It properly connotes the complex concept of duty, breach and the resultant damage or injury suffered by the person to whom the duty was owed.”

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, he said in order to succeed at the law court, clients have to ensure that their malpractice claims satisfy all three criteria.

He was one of the discussants on the show. The discussion was centred on the negligent behaviours of some medical practitioners at some health facilities in the country.

“Thankfully, the law court has settled this. There is no need for litigation. All medical professionals or health professionals owe patients a duty of care. So, the court would not waste time to go into that. It is a given.”

The second criteria for patients to take notice of is whether that duty of care has been breached.

“In terms of breach, we would look at things like; causation: what really happened. It would be measured against a certain set standard within the profession. The standard as set within the profession is what that conduct would be measured against to see whether there has been a breach or otherwise.

“And if there has been a breach, the next level is that, was there a resultant injury or damage. There could have been a breach, but if there’s no damage, you won’t succeed.”

“The next or final step is the damage or the injury. That damage has to be direct or proximate to the breach. If there are intervening factors, you might not succeed because whatever may have happened is as a result of the intervening factors post the breach.”

Dr Yankson acknowledged that errors do exist in the medical field, but “not every error that will amount to success in terms of your attempt to go in for a malpractice claim.”

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