He might still be alive today

István Cári senior became sick during the preparations for a pig slaughter early in the morning on February 25, 2011. His son and acquaintances who were there called the nearby doctor. They went to her house and also called the ambulance to no avail, as the doctor didn’t help, and the ambulance arrived late.

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Because of the proceedings, István Cári jr. pressed charges; the police investigated in this case of missing assistance. The HCLU represented István Cári in the ethical proceedings in front of the Hungarian Medical Chamber. The first instance decision found that the doctor did not commit an ethical violation, although only her behavior after she finally came down to the inquest was discussed.

On the grounds of the Health Law and the continuous health care enactment, the National Public Health and Medical Officer Service also made an investigation that didn’t condemn the doctor, claiming that she is not the person who should have been called, but the medics on duty. However, the Health Law concerning all health workers – meaning doctors as well – states that in cases of urgent need, regardless of place and time, they have to act reasonably under the circumstances, and provide first aid to people in need according to their means, and to take the necessary measures without delay. Urgent need is a situation in which the absence of immediate medical care to the patient directly endangers their life or causes serious or irreversible damage. The law also notes that if it is not clear whether there is such a situation, the health worker must act as if there was. We believe that the doctor could have investigated the cause of the shouting, which she heard- as shown by her testimony on the phone call, and her statement in a newspaper- this would have been her obligation as a medical professional.

The Ethical Committee – in a not yet a legally binding declaration – stated that the doctor did not violate the rules imposed upon her with her behavior; not the regulations on the treatment of the patients, or the preservation of human dignity. It is true that István Cári jr. was not the patient of the doctor in this case, but we believe that this case highlights why it is so difficult to prove a violation of human dignity in the proceedings relating to complaints regarding health care.

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