Case 451/2011

STS 451/2011
Download Judgment: English
Country: Spain
Region: Europe
Year: 2011
Court: Supreme Court
Health Topics: Infectious diseases, Medical malpractice, Medicines
Tags: Compensation, Damages, Drug safety, Negligence, Pharmaceuticals, Remedies, Tort

In 1982, a child was given aspirin in the hospital to fight against a respiratory disease with fever. Afterward, he developed Reye’s syndrome,  a kind of mental retardation.

Attributing the disease to the administration of the aspirin, his parents brought a claim for financial liability from the Administration for a poor sanitary conditions. Their claim was rejected by the Ministry of Health, and they appealed that decision. The ruling found that the Administration could not be held liable because it was not until 1986 that it became common medical practice to warn patients about the possibility of a child contracting Reye’s syndrome from aspirin. Therefore, at the time in 1982, the hospital had acted in accordance with proper medical protocol.

The Court denied the appeal, holding that the lower court had been correct in finding that the hospital could not be held liable when the state of  medical knowledge at the time it administered the aspirin did not include the knowledge that providing aspirin to children could cause Reye's syndrome.

"There is not any pretended irrational assessment of the evidence referring to the causal connection. As it was said before, the appealed ruling does not claim definitively that it was the administration of aspirin in the summer of 1982 what produced the Reye's syndrome to Mr. Anibal; but the truth is that the reason why it rejects the indemnification claim is not the absence of causal connection, but the observance of the lex artis. In other words, regarding to the practiced evidences, the Court of instance concludes that, apart from any other deliberation, the condition of the medical knowledge in that time did not made necessary to know that the administration of aspirin to children could cause the Reye's syndrome." Pages 2-3.