Dissatisfied patients in Italy are taking legal action against their doctors more often than before. A report published by Cittadinanzattiva, an action group protecting citizens' and consumers' rights, shows that in 2002 there were 1,219 court cases brought by patients claiming damages, in 2003 there were 1,263 cases and by 15 July 2004 there had been 950 cases, an increase of almost 50 per cent on the first half of 2003. The largest number of cases was brought against orthopedic surgeons, oncologists, gynaecologists and general surgeons. The figures also show that doctors are winning between 65 per cent and 75 per cent of the casas brought against them.

To help protect themselves against accusations of malpractise a group of doctors has formed an association which will consider taking legal action against anyone bringing unjust and damaging action.