Being a victim of medical error in Brazil: an (un)real dilemma

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Vitor Silva Mendonça *
Eda Marconi Custódio
(*) Corresponding Author:
Vitor Silva Mendonça |


Medical error stems from inadequate professional conduct that is capable of producing harm to life or exacerbating the health of another, whether through act or omission. This situation has become increasingly common in Brazil and worldwide. In this study, the aim was to understand what being the victim of medical error is like and to investigate the circumstances imposed on this condition of victims in Brazil. A semi-structured interview was conducted with twelve people who had gone through situations of medical error in their lives, creating a space for narratives of their experiences and deep reflection on the phenomenon. The concept of medical error has a negative connotation, often being associated with the incompetence of a medical professional. Medical error in Brazil is demonstrated by low-quality professional performance and represents the current reality of the country because of the common lack of respect and consideration for patients. Victims often remark on their loss of identity, as their social functions have been interrupted and they do not expect to regain such. It was found, however, little assumption of error in the involved doctors’ discourses and attitudes, which felt a need to judge the medical conduct in an attempt to assert their rights. Medical error in Brazil presents a punitive character and is little discussed in medical and scientific circles. The stigma of medical error is closely connected to the value and cultural judgments of the country, making it difficult to accept, both by victims and professionals.

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