The Court of Appeal of Naples excludes contributory negligence in medical liability cases

A patient’s acceptance of a doctor’s warning regarding the risks associated with cosmetic surgery does not constitute conduct relevant to application of article 1227 of the civil code, which regulates the contributory negligence of the creditor.

The courts have on several occasions ruled that the medical professional is required to exercise due diligence, qualified by his expertise and the use of technical means appropriate to the type of activity he is called upon to perform.

In other words, it is possible to distinguish between a general professional diligence and a “qualified” professional diligence, because the person who assumes an obligation in the capacity of a specialist (in the present case, an aesthetic medical surgeon) is bound by the expertise proper to this particular category.

Thus, the difficulty of the surgery and the degree of professional diligence must necessarily be linked to the level of specialisation of the professional, who is held to carefully assess the limits of his own adequacy and, if he deems necessary, also consult third parties.

In the case of a contract for intellectual services, such as the contract between the surgeon and the patient, the professional cannot, in the event of a breach of his professional obligations, invoke a diminution of his responsibility towards his client on the sole ground that the latter did not pay attention to the work performed or did not verify that the service had been correctly performed. In conclusion, the client who hires a professional has the right to expect that the work will be performed in accordance with the techniques required by the nature of the service, without the need for the client to carry out any verification.