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   Case summaries      Erikson v Italy 37900/97
 
 

Erikson v Italy 37900/97 [1999] ECHR 201  European Court Human Rights

 

The applicant's mother died after receiving treatment for abdominal pain. A doctor had prescribed an x-ray without having examined her. She was given barium to drink prior to the x-ray and collapsed during the examination. She was sent home and died the following day of an intestinal occlusion. It transpired that ingesting barium with an intestinal occlusion is very dangerous. An investigation was launched by the Italian authorities but this was dropped when they were unable to establish the identity of the radiologist. The applicant complains his mother's right to life under Art 2 was violated on account of the failure of the Italian authorities to exercise their best efforts to identify those responsible for her death.

Held:

Art 2 confers a positive obligation on the state to protect lives and this extends to the requirement for hospitals to have regulations for the protection of their patients's lives and also the obligation to establish an effective judicial system for establishing the cause of death which occurs in hospital and any liability on the part of the medical practitioners concerned. However, the judicial authorities carried out a thorough investigation into the events. Whilst the investigations were unable to establish the identity of the radiographer, Art 2 does not guarantee a right to secure a conviction  in criminal proceedings. Therefore there was no violation of Art 2.

    

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