Lex artis meaning, importance, action, application, background

Philip Kelley
Lex artis meaning, importance, action, application, background

The lex artis refers to a group of medical skills that have been accepted as the correct way to care for patients today. Over time the lex artis it changes and evolves, as it follows the rhythm that marked the progress that also occurs in the branch of medicine. In addition, the practices grouped in the lex artis they depend a lot on the specific characteristics of each patient.

You can consider the lex artis such as the grouping of different norms that allow evaluating the work of doctors. These rules are not always written. With them, skill, speed and medical success are rated at specific times. It has to do with the ethics of the profession.

Lex artis a set of standards for medical practice. Via Wikimedia Commons.

This set of rules is very important since at the legal level it is what determines which methodology has been applied correctly. Define the medical practices of the lex artis allows distinguishing between good practice and bad practice by medical professionals.

Although it is not a law, it is the method that exists to regulate and set the limits of medical work. Each medical professional works according to a group of norms, but the scientific knowledge acquired and their qualification must be taken into account..

Article index

  • 1 Meaning
  • 2. Background
  • 3 Range of action
  • 4 Application of the lex artis
    • 4.1 Standards
    • 4.2 Evaluation criteria
    • 4.3 Conditions
  • 5 Importance
  • 6 References


The expression lex artis derives from Latin. The most literal translation that can be made is: the "law of art", but it can also be called "artisan law" or even as the "rule of the rule".

Although it is an expression that can really be used in any profession, it is more commonly used in the field of medicine. Outside of this, as for example in jurisprudence, the most common is to talk about lex artis as the sanitary responsibility.


In Roman law, the idea or ethical rule that demanded that no one suffer any harm is already embodied.

However, Aristotle was one of the first thinkers who spoke that branches such as medicine or architecture were capable of transforming the characteristics of certain things. Specifically, he spoke about lege artis, which can be translated as the rules of art. He explained that it was necessary to follow certain social norms when carrying out certain actions.

Range of action

The criteria established in the lex artis They are not fixed, nor can they be applied in the same way in any corner of the world. A rule found in the lex artis of one country does not have to be the same in another nation. There are even differences between rural or urban areas of the same territory.

Many factors influence the establishment of the standards of the lex artis and its subsequent fulfillment. The geography of the place can influence, as well as the machinery of the institutions where health services are provided and even the cultures of the patients in the communities in general.

The lex artis It should not be at odds with the clinical freedom of the doctors, as well as their entire work team, when treating any patient. As an ethical assessment method, it should be understood as a changing or moldable process.

The lex artis It obliges the medical professional to have the necessary knowledge about their degree area. It also demands prudence in the treatment of any patient. That is why the lex artis It is so influenced by factors external to medicine, such as social, economic, cultural elements, among many others..

Application of the lex artis


The standards contained in the lex artis They can be applied at three different times in medical work:

- The evaluation in the first instance, which is when the analysis of the patient and their possible pathologies is carried out.

- Then there is the process of diagnosis, which is when medical personnel make a clinical judgment.. 

- Finally, the performance during treatment or when proposing one is analyzed. This can vary, since it can be curative or only serve as mitigating symptoms.

Evaluation criteria

If the scenario occurs that harm to the patient occurs, the lex artis It will make it possible to determine whether the medical group acted in the best possible way in these three stages. It is then evaluated if there was a good technique, which was also the correct one and following all the principles learned.

The assessment of the medical care received, whether it was good or not, whether it followed the rules of the lex artis or not, it is very difficult to establish in spite of everything.

To determine a malpractice, professionals in the area must discover if there was any harm from healthcare. These aspects may be influenced by the patient's history and its singularities, the pathology with which it was presented in the first instance and the effects it generates in all kinds of scenarios..

Once the patient is evaluated, we begin to analyze the actions that the doctors followed and if the guidelines of the lex artis. For this, it is necessary to determine the protocols that had to be used. These can be preventive treatments, tests carried out, the delay in care, the means used or available and the prescription of medicines..


You cannot always claim for medical malpractice or apply the lex artis. This happens especially when a situation occurs that has not been studied or proven by scientists previously..

The lex artis states that in a situation all physicians should act in the same way as long as the conditions surrounding the case are the same. This does not exclude the professional freedom that a doctor must always have, but in turn this must be supported by medical advances and following the rules of good judgment..

Health professionals are obliged to know and control all the issues in their work area. In addition, another condition present in the lex artis is that medical professionals should always be expanding their knowledge.

There is a maximum rule in the lex artis that talks about the fact that patients should be treated by professionals in the same way that healthcare professionals would like to be treated in the same setting.


The grouping of the norms of the lex artis It was a very important step for medical professionals, since it allowed generating certain security in the practice of their profession. Today, with the lex artis the possible risks of the different treatments that patients receive are more delimited.

In addition, all this made it possible to improve the process of requesting authorized consent for the practice of certain procedures. In this way, the patient is more and better informed of the risks and the doctor is protected against certain scenarios..


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  3. Martínez López, F. and Ruíz Ortega, J. (2001). Health risk management manual. Madrid: Diaz de Santos.
  4. Morillas Cuevas, L., Benâitez Ortâuzar, I., Morillas Cueva, L., Suárez López, J. and Suâarez Lâopez, J. (2010). Legal studies on criminal, civil and administrative responsibility of the doctor and other health agents. Spain: Dykinson.
  5. Pérez Mallada, N., Fernández Martínez, S. and Martín Saborido, C. (2009). Aspects of management and health law in physiotherapy. [Madrid]: ALSO Graphic Communication.

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