Legal recourse for medical malpractice in Turkey

The main reason for disputes in medical malpractice for medical travellers is due to the absence of an organised international system that can provide legal solutions. In Turkey, malpractice, organ trafficking and alternative medicine are in need of further legislation and new regulations.

According to Turkish regulations health institutions that accept international patients have to prepare all documents and patient consent forms in different languages (in English at least) for foreign patients.

There is a registration and notification system to evaluate complaints about disputes that may arise during the implementation of treatments for international health tourists.

There is also a legal relationship between the patient and public hospitals.  A lawsuit for compensation may be filed against the Ministry of Health for public hospitals.

There is a contractual relationship between the private hospital and the patient. The Court of Cassation accepts that a contractual relationship has been established between the patient and the private hospital (patient admission contract), and that the hospital’s responsibility is strict liability in accordance with Article 66 of Turkish Law Of Obligations in settled judicial precedents. Disputes between the private hospital and the patient should be resolved in accordance with the legal regulations provided by the mandate agreement.

The Court of Cassation decision is that the intermediary company and the doctor/hospital in Turkey are jointly responsible. Compensation may be awarded in accordance with the provisions of the Turkish Law of Obligations on unlawful medical intervention.

The medical traveller can also file a lawsuit against the hospital/doctor based on the provisions relating to tortious act.

Turkey recognises that mistakes made by a person or an institution negatively affects the medical travel sector in general.

Malpractice, organ trafficking and alternative medicine are still in need of further legislation and new regulations.  Ethical and legal issues relating to hospital/facility and patient relationships also have to be addressed.

One recommendation is that all medical tourism companies should take individual measures for the establishment of a liability policy or compensation funds for damages arising from the legal disputes between the intermediary companies and the international patient.