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“Injury without Fault”: Lithuania strengthens patient rights Part 2

New Lithuanian model on compensation of damages – compensation for pain and suffering and changes for health care professionals and health care organizations.

As noted in Part 1 of this article, the amended Law on Patient Rights and Compensation for damages caused to someone’s health applies in Lithuania as of 1st January 2020.

Part 1 covered the simplified procedure and the increased chances of success for patients.

But what are the possibilities to claim compensation for pain and suffering and what exactly are the changes for health care professionals (HCPs) and health care organizations (HCOs)?

1. What compensation for pain and suffering could I expect as a patient?

Compensation for pain and suffering is determined under the amended law on a points system. The advantage for patients lies in the fact that they can measure their expectations in advance. In addition, the exact amount of compensation is no longer in the total discretion of those deciding the claim.
The Lithuanian Government has issued a table describing the different forms of damages and the points ascribed to any specific form of damage. Each point possesses a value of 100 EUR.
Patients with irreparable or permanently disrupted function of one organ, one system or one part of the body might receive compensation of 100 to 6500 EUR according to the importance for their vital functions and their daily life. If function can be restored, compensation amounts from 100 to 1500 EUR.
A negative influence on the social life of the patient (such as the possibility to engage in professional activity, to take care of the family) is compensable by an amount between 100 to 2000 EUR.
Suffering pain for at least three months (under treatment with non-narcotic medicinal products) results in compensation of 500 EUR.

2. What changes are foreseen for HCPs and HCOs?

HCPs and HCOs no longer need to conclude separate civil liability insurance with private insurance companies.
HCOs and HCPs contribute to compensation of damage arising out of treatment from premiums paid to the account of the Lithuanian State Health Fund. These funds are directly used for compensating claims by patients.
The following contributions are to be made:
• small HCOs (such as general practitioners, nursing care facilities, palliative care institutions) – 0.1 % of the turnover of the previous year;
• other HCOs - 0.2 % of the turnover of the previous year.

3. Why do the amendments to the Law introduce reduced liability for HCPs?

To prevent concealment or disguise of malpractice the amendments reduce consequential liability for HCPs.
Before 1st January 2020 a single act of gross malpractice or repeated non-gross malpractice risked the HCP losing their licence.
After the amendment two acts of gross malpractice are needed for withdrawal of the licence.
In other cases, such as one act of gross malpractice or two acts of non-gross malpractice, the HCP’s licence may be suspended for a certain time under the possible condition of their raising their qualifications.

4. What is being done to reduce the rate of incidence of malpractice?

To avoid repeated malpractice a system for prevention has been introduced. A Commission will take up its functions with the task of giving recommendations to HCOs on avoidance of malpractice. The Commission will also advise the Lithuanian Ministry of Health on improved regulation for quality assurance and prevention of malpractice.

Our bnt attorneys in CEE office in Vilnius / Lithuania looks forward to replying to all further questions you might have.