KBC Osijek Warns Unvaccinated Employees to Pay Compensation if a Patient Becomes Infected

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Dubravka Petric/PIXSELL
Dubravka Petric/PIXSELL

Zadarski.hr reports that the management of KBC Osijek sent a letter to employees warning them that in case of potential lawsuits of patients related to COVID-19, if the court decides in favor of the plaintiff, there is a possibility that compensation will be paid by an employee who was not vaccinated and infected the patient.

“If doctors or nurses are not vaccinated and the patient becomes infected with covid-19, then it can be demonstrated that not all the protection measures available to the health facility have been taken. If the hospital has to pay compensation, the same amount can be claimed from of an unvaccinated worker who infected a patient, since the hospital as an employer enabled vaccination”, the internal letter reads.

Namely, the letter was created after the first request for compensation was submitted, at the Zagreb Clinical Hospital, where the family of the deceased 84-year-old asked for a settlement with the hospital. As Jutarnji was the first to report, they believe that the deceased came to the hospital negative for covid, became ill, and eventually died. They demanded compensation of HRK 632,000 and paid attorney’s fees, and the hospital refused the settlement because they claim that there is no evidence that she became infected in the hospital. But it is still unknown whether the family will file a lawsuit.

The director of KBC Osijek, Željko Zubčić, said that the notification sent to hospital employees was not a kind of pressure on those who were not vaccinated to do so, but their obligation to inform employees about potential scenarios and consequences of possible lawsuits.

”Considering that the first compensation claim was filed against the hospital in Croatia, we once again warned our employees about responsible behavior but also informed them about what is happening, and about the potential risks if such a situation occurs”, said Zubčić.

KBC Osijek, he notes, started vaccinating employees on December 27, 2020, and provided vaccines for all who want to be vaccinated, as well as protective equipment for working with patients, all for the purpose of maximum protection of both employees and patients.

”We believe that it is OK to inform employees that the hospital has the right to claim possible damages from employees, of course, if it is proven in court that it did not comply with protection measures and thus caused damage to the employer”, said the director Zubčić and added that KBC Osijek has received no such lawsuit.

However, he states that they have one or two cases of claiming documentation from law firms, which means a lawsuit may be prepared.

Do other hospitals follow?

”Of course, this also needs to be proven because it can happen that patients come with a negative PCR test, but they can be incubated, which means they can bring coronavirus to the KBC because the incubation can last two days, but also ten to 14 days. This is all proven later. We believe that such situations will be rare, but we must warn our employees about them”, concluded Zubčić.

Krešimir Luetić, president of the Croatian Medical Chamber (HLK), states that they have clearly advocated for the vaccination of all doctors and all health professionals from the beginning.

”On July 21, the Executive Board of the Croatian Medical Chamber adopted a conclusion that, due to the unsatisfactory level of vaccination, it considers the introduction of mandatory vaccination of employees in Croatian health care to be justified. HLK believes that the state health administration should take responsibility and make a decision on mandatory vaccination of health workers”, says Luetic and adds that calculating, not making decisions, and shifting responsibility to lower levels is not a successful way to fight coronavirus, nor will vaccination of all health professionals.

”The responsibility of health professionals is twofold. We are not only responsible for our own health, but also for the health of all our patients”, Luetić points out, and Mario Gazić, the president of the Chamber of Nurses, agrees with him.

”Yesterday we once again sent a letter calling for vaccination. Among healthcare professionals, realistically, this should not be a topic of discussion at all. Therefore, I do not consider the letter from KBC Osijek to be at all unusual or inadequate”.

Although KBC Osijek was the first to present this notice to the employees, this does not mean that other hospitals will not be guided by it.

Davor Vagić, director of KBC Sestre milosrdnice, says that he supports his colleague from Osijek because everyone in health care should be vaccinated, except those who, for objective reasons, are not allowed to receive the vaccine.

”The legal services of hospitals should give an answer to this question, and doctors and nurses know that they are doing a job in which they have to protect themselves and patients”, Vagić points out.

The assistant director of KBC Zagreb, Milivoj Novak, also shares this opinion.

”It is a question for the legal service, but everyone should bear some kind of responsibility. It is clear that vaccinated people can sometimes transmit the disease, but then we know that we gave our best and used all currently available methods of protection”, concludes Novak.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.


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