Informing patients about the standards important for their safety


The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) call for greater involvement of patients in protecting their own health, primarily through education. Informing patients about the applicable standards in an understandable language is a key problem and the area of ​​changes explains Joanna Mrowicka, MBA, auditor of the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw

The appeal shows that patients should be empowered through their involvement in safety protection, informed about the applicable safety standards and measures and about how they can find accessible and understandable information about the system of complaints and compensation in the event of medical incidents. Patient safety should be part of the education and training of healthcare professionals responsible for patient care.

Medical incident

According to the definition of the Polish language by PWN, an incident is an unpleasant event or an event of little importance. According to the Polish language guide, an incident is an event that occurs in pejorative contexts when it comes to unpleasant, inappropriate, unfortunate events. Medical incidents are often equated with adverse events.

In health care, the most common understanding of a medical incident is a medical error, that is, behavior contrary to the rules of conduct with respect to such legal goods as the patient’s life or health (A. Zoll, Doctor’s criminal liability …). Medical incidents fall under the broad definition of adverse events, which include, for example, death of a patient, repeated or prolonged hospitalization or reoperation. We can most likely consider death as a medical incident. Identification and analysis of the causes of incidents in the group of adverse events is essential for the proper treatment process.

According to the definition of the European directive in this area, an adverse event means an event which causes harm to a patient. Injury is a physical or functional impairment of the body or any harmful consequences that arise from it. It is also a healthcare associated infection, which means any disease or pathology related to the presence of bacteria or viruses in relation to contact with healthcare facilities or healthcare procedures or treatments.

Medical error

In order to talk about a medical incident and find a violation of the rules of conduct, first of all, it is necessary to refer to the legal definition of a medical error, by which we understand the conduct of a person providing a medical service that violates the rules of professional conduct established on the basis of medical science and practice, binding in a specific factual state.

Committing a medical error may result in a doctor’s criminal liability only if his behavior meets several conditions, which include primarily illegal behavior, violation of rules by the perpetrator, social harm (culpability) and guilt. Charging a person providing medical services requires an assessment of their behavior from the point of view of the four above-mentioned premises, and thus is associated with the assessment of a specialist – expert in a given field of medicine.