Mehmet Senturk and Bekir Senturk v. Turkey

Application No. 13423/09
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The first applicant took his pregnant wife to the Izmir Pubic Hospital. A midwife examined his wife and the duty gynecologist was not called. As the applicant’s wife was experiencing continuous pain, he took her to another hospital- Atatruk Research and Teaching Hospital. An Assistant Doctor examined her and thereafter referred her to the Urology Department. He diagnosed renal colic and after prescribing her medications, told her to come back after delivery. The pain did not subside and the first applicant took his wife to the Ege Medical Facility Hospital. She was transferred to the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department. The team of doctors after conducting the required investigations stated that the child the applicant’s wife was carrying was dead and had to be removed. For the procedure and hospitalization, the hospital informed the applicant and his wife that a deposit would be required. The applicant informed the hospital that he does not have the required sum of money. The wife of the first applicant was transferred to the Izmir Gynaecology and Obstetrics Hospitals in a private ambulance and there were no medical staff present there. The first applicant’s wife died while she was being transferred in the ambulance.

The first applicant alleged that his wife lost his life due to the negligence and stated that it was a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The applicant further alleged that Article 2 had been violated on account of the unborn child as he/she had died due to the failure of the health system.

The Court held that there had been a violation of the rights of the applicant’s wife under Article 2 of the Convention. The Court stated that there are certain positive obligations imposed on the State by Article 2 such as setting up hospitals and provide adequate care to the patients. The Court took into consideration expert reports, which pointed to the fact that there were many instances of negligence on behalf of the medical staff. The denial of healthcare led to the death of the applicant’s wife. The Court noted that the fact that financial obligation was given more priority than the patient’s health and the applicant’s wife was not given access to emergency care shows that the State failed to protect the patient’s bodily integrity.

The Court also observes that a record of the successive instances of medical negligence to which the applicants’ wife and mother was subjected, and also the incompetence of certain members of the medical staff who examined her, was set out in the investigation and expert reports. It further notes that the responsibility of the accused medical staff was clearly established by those reports (see paragraphs 16, 17 and 45 above). Equally, the Supreme Administrative Court, when asked to determine whether proceedings could be brought against the doctors in the Ege University Medical Faculty Hospital, considered that the conduct of those doctors was a matter for criminal prosecution and called for proceedings to be brought against them (see paragraph 28 above). Finally, the responsibility of part of the accused medical personnel in Mrs Şentürk’s death was recognised by the first-instance criminal court (see paragraph 57 above).” (Para 87)

Thus, the deceased woman, victim of a flagrant malfunctioning of the hospital departments, was deprived of the possibility of access to appropriate emergency care. This finding is sufficient for the Court to conclude that the State failed in its obligation to protect her physical integrity. Consequently, it concludes that there has been a violation of the substantive limb of Article 2 of the Convention.” (Para 97)

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