By Giorgos Skampoulos, Associate LL.M.
The issue of the responsibility of the doctor, who has increased qualifications compared to the average doctor of his speciality, has been raised in Greek theory and jurisprudence. A highly qualified doctor may be considered to be one who, for example, holds an academic title, is a clinic director, is particularly popular or has extensive experience in a particular type of medical procedure. In legal theory, it is argued that a doctor’s enhanced qualifications are taken into account when the doctor and the patient are linked by a medical treatment contract, because in this case the patient, in the context of the relationship of trust that he or she develops with the doctor, relies on his or her subjective characteristics and specific knowledge.
Given the wealth of expertise that exists within the medical science, case law has set the standard of care for the legality of a doctor’s conduct as the average doctor in his or her speciality. In Greek case-law, therefore, the increased qualifications of a doctor do not, in principle, alter the standard of care of the average doctor of the relevant speciality. It is, however, increasingly supported that it is de lege ferenda acceptable to “further refine the standard of due diligence with objectively measurable qualities, such as postgraduate studies or postgraduate training”. In other words, for example, in cases where there is objectively measurable expertise in the form of a postgraduate degree, the measure of diligence may be the average, prudent physician in the relevant specialty who holds a postgraduate degree.
In conclusion, under Greek law, the measure of a doctor’s liability is the average doctor of his specialty, but this criterion seems to be heading towards further refinement in order to be more in line with the parameters dictated by medical reality.