Medical Negligence Claims in Switzerland

12. September 2023

Increasingly we receive inquiries from patients of foreign nationality who had medical treatments in Switzerland which were not satisfactory. They care to know whether the hospital or doctor in question can be sued for medical malpractice.

The prerequisite for liability of the doctor or hospital according to Swiss law is careless action of the person concerned. For example, when an operation was not indicated at all, the alternatives and risks were not explained, or the operation was simply performed carelessly there may be reason for a claim. It can also be alleged that an illness was wrongly diagnosed or a reported treatment was omitted, resulting in damage. In principle, it is not sufficient grounds for liability if the intended outcome was not achieved after an operation, since the doctor does not owe success, but only careful treatment.

It is worth noting that there are public and private hospitals in Switzerland. In the case of public hospitals, there are different regulations depending on the canton with regards to the statute of limitations or even forfeiture of claims. In some cases, claims can forfeit after a short period of time if no action is taken. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the legal situation carefully early on and we recommend seeking legal advice rapidly.

Through PEOPIL (Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers) and APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers APIL) memberships, schadenanwaelte has access to a vast network of lawyers abroad that we can cooperate with in international matters.