Document Detail

Sovereign immunity: Principles and application in medical malpractice.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22415729     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Tort law seeks accountability when parties engage in negligent conduct, and aims to compensate the victims of such conduct. An exception to this general rule governing medical negligence is the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Historically, individuals acting under the authority of the government or other sovereign entity had almost complete protection against tort liability.
QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: This article addressed the following: (1) the development of sovereign immunity in law, (2) the lasting impact of the Federal Tort Claims Act on sovereign immunity, and (3) the contemporary application of sovereign immunity to medical malpractice, using case examples from Virginia and Florida.
METHODS: I performed an Internet search to identify sources that addressed the concept of sovereign immunity, followed by a focused search for relevant articles in PubMed and LexisNexis, literature databases for medical and legal professionals, respectively.
RESULTS: Historically, sovereign liability conferred absolute immunity from lawsuits in favor of the sovereign (ie, the government). Practical considerations in our democratic system have contributed to an evolution of this doctrine.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding sovereign immunity and its contemporary application are of value for any physician interested in the debate concerning medical malpractice in the United States. Under certain circumstances, physicians working as employees of the federal or state government may be protected against individual liability if the government is substituted as the defendant.
Michael Suk
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Clinical orthopaedics and related research     Volume:  470     ISSN:  1528-1132     ISO Abbreviation:  Clin. Orthop. Relat. Res.     Publication Date:  2012 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-03-29     Completed Date:  2012-05-15     Revised Date:  2013-05-02    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0075674     Medline TA:  Clin Orthop Relat Res     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1365-9     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Geisinger Health System, MC 21-30, 100 N Academy Ave, Danville, PA 17822, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Legislation, Medical / standards*
Liability, Legal*
Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
Medicine / standards*
Social Responsibility

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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