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Nosocomial Infection, Physicians and Health Care Institutions: The Present State of French Case Law

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Infections acquired in health care institutions are a topic of which professionals and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of. The growing number of lawsuits relating to nosocomial infection increases the anxiety felt by professionals in this domain. With increased emphasis on safety in the field of health, the notion of obligation of safety has made its appearance in French case law.

The recent evolution of judicial case law concerning nosocomial infection has far-reaching consequences in terms of liability for health care institutions and physicians. The difference in legal provisions governing the patient in a state-run institution and the patient in a privately-owned institution now no longer exists. The presumption of liability accepted for state-run institutions (1988) and for private institutions (1996) is now replaced by no-fault liability (responsabilité sans faute) and through it the safe-outcome obligation (obligation de sécurité de résultat) for private institutions and physicians in private practice.

Affiliations: 1: Legal Medicine Department, Rangueil University Hospital, F-31043 Toulouse Cedex, France


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