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Parents win fight for justice following their son’s death

Šilih v. Slovenia  | 2009

Parents win fight for justice following their son’s death

 My wife and I have sacrificed 16 years of our life. After 16 years of legal process we proved that we are right.

Ivan Šilih, father of Gregor Šilih, after the judgment from the European Court. Reported by Delo - © Photo STA

Background

Gregor Šilih was 20 years old when he sought medical help at a hospital for itchy skin and nausea. Without conducting any prior investigations, doctors injected him with two active substances. Gregor then went into an anaphylactic shock. His condition remained critical for two weeks, after which he died.

Gregor’s parents believed that his death had been the result of negligent medical practices, which had then been covered up. They issued legal proceedings against the hospital to find out what happened.

Sixteen years later, the Slovenian courts had still not fully resolved the case. This left Gregor’s parents unable to determine the cause of their son’s death and whether anyone should be held accountable.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, governments have a duty set up an effective independent judicial system so that the cause of death of medical patients can be determined.

The court ruled that the Slovenian authorities had failed to carry out this duty in the Šilih case. Sixteen years after the proceedings began, Gregor’s parents had still not had clarity about what had happened to their son. 

 Today is the winning day.

Franja Šilih, mother of Gregor Šilih, after the settlement of her case in Slovenia. Reported by Svet24

Follow-up

The government and hospital settled the claim from Gregor’s parents. A representative of the hospital expressed sincere regrets for the loss of Gregor’s life and deplored the fact that his death occurred while he was receiving medical assistance. The government agreed to create the “Šilih Project”, to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

The Šilih Project established a range of reforms to prevent accidents in hospitals and help ensure safe, effective treatment. It also led to changes in judicial proceedings to establish responsibility for deaths or serious injuries that happen during medical treatment.

The reforms have included changes to legislation, numerous Slovenian court decisions upholding the standards contained in the European court’s Šilih judgment, and a wide range of administrative measures from the Slovenian government.