Romania: ‘Medical negligence’ human rights row leads to €25,000 award

A woman who alleged that botched dental work left her in pain and suffering with infected gums, has today been awarded €25,000 by the European Court of Human Rights.

S.B. v. Romania (no. 24453/04)

The applicant, Ms S.B., is a Romanian national who was born in 1952 and lives in Bucharest. The case concerned alleged medical negligence for dental treatment.

In September 2001 the applicant underwent dental treatment involving bridgework, which she alleges was not correctly carried out by the dentist given the various problems (infected gums, cuts and pain) it caused her.

In March 2003 she lodged a criminal complaint, requesting a detailed medical expert report which would establish whether there had been medical negligence in her case and seeking compensation.

An expert report was carried out and issued in December 2003, recommending the removal of the prosthetic dental work as it had been inadequately carried out by the dentist.

Ultimately, however, in March 2011, the Bucharest District Court acquitted the dentist of medical negligence, concluding that the applicant was at fault as she had refused to have the dental prosthetics fixed permanently. This decision was subsequently upheld on appeal in October 2011.

Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), the applicant notably complained about the lack of opportunity to establish whether the dental treatment she had undergone had constituted medical negligence and to obtain appropriate redress.

She submitted in particular that it had been impossible in Romania in cases of medical negligence to obtain a medical expert report without first having lodged a civil or criminal complaint.

Violation of Article 8

Just satisfaction: EUR 25,000 (all heads of damage), and EUR 850 (costs and expenses)

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