On 28 February 2017 the Chamber of Deputies definitively approved Bill C-259 concerning “Provisions concerning the safety of care and professional liability of healthcare professionals”.
The legislative action has a significant impact on the controversial issue of medical liability, carrying out some significant amendments (as well as in civil laws, also) relating to criminal law by the introduction of the autonomous offence of “Culpable liability for death or personal injury in healthcare” under the new Article 590-sexies of the Criminal Code.
Considering that the new criminal offence is applicable exclusively to healthcare professionals, it is a 'special rule' with respect to the traditional hypothesis of culpable personal injury and death pursuant to Articles 589 and 590 of the Criminal Code, with which it shares the penalties.
However, the real importance of the new provision consists in the specific exemption from punishment included in the second paragraph<span "="">: following what is already provided in Article 3, paragraph 1, of Decree Law no. 158/2012, converted with amendments by Law no. 189/2012 (so-called ‘Balduzzi Decree’, simultaneously repealed), the new Article 590-sexies of the Criminal Code excludes criminal responsibility of healthcare professionals in relation to the offences covered therein when the event is the result of inexperience, in the case that the guideline recommendations are adhered to or when the best clinical practices are respected and - in any case – if these are adequate, in relation to the particularities of the specific case.
In fact, the new criminal offence, which should be appreciated for its clarity, incorporates the case law expressed in recent years with regard to the application of the exemption of the medical liability, in terms of the law resolving the well-known doctrinal debate which emerged after the Balduzzi Decree, now repealed, entered into force.