What is it about?

On 19 December 2017 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered a judgment in the Lopes de Sousa Fernandes v. Portugal case. The judgment may be described as one of the hard cases dealing with a healthcare context, as it aimed to clarify the scope of positive substantive state obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the conditions of international responsibility. This article explores the judgment against the wider background of the previous case-law of the Court. It focuses on the question of the classification of healthcare problems into three categories: medical negligence, systemic deficiency, and denial of emergency healthcare, and reflects upon their ratione materiae justiciability before the European Court of Human Rights.

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Why is it important?

Managing healthcare is a difficult task, and States struggle to provide just and equal access to healthcare. The article explains the scope of international obligations of States. It is important to understand the difference between the individual responsibility of medical staff and healthcare providers grounded in national laws, from international obligations of States that does not cover typical medical negligence.

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This page is a summary of: Medical Negligence, Systemic Deficiency, or Denial of Emergency Healthcare? Reflections on the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber Judgment in Lopes de Sousa Fernandes v. Portugal of 19 December 2017 and Previous Case-law, European Journal of Health Law, February 2019, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15718093-12550407.
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