Medical malpractice lawsuits and new legal institutions.


Studying the Polish jurisprudence, it is easy to notice a tendency towards an increase in the number of court cases, both civil and criminal, in which patients make claims related to damages caused as a result of treatment. There are more and more complaints of negligence from doctors. For example: in 2014, 2.2 thousand medical rooms were accepted, and a year later – 3.3 thousand (1). This number continues to rise, but still does not correspond to the actual number of medical errors.

 The Primum Non Nocere Patient Association reports that there are up to 20,000 of them in Poland. medical errors. The prosecutor’s office suspects that there are many more, maybe even 30,000 (2). This trend is also accompanied by changes in the legislation aimed at the effective examination of the case.

Problems arising from the inadequate provision of health services. The provincial commissions for medical events have been operating since 2012 with relatively new institutions that allow the submission of applications for medical errors. The purpose of the provincial commission’s proceedings is to determine whether the event that caused material or intangible damage is a medical event.

In order to rule on a medical event, the group must conclude that the diagnostic, therapeutic or therapeutic procedures undertaken on the patient were not in accordance with current medical knowledge. This procedure, if a decision is made on a medical incident, may lead to the payment of compensation or compensation by the insurer. Initiating a case before the commission is cheap, easy, and the decision itself is made quickly.

The practice of commission activities indicates that they are often treated as the first step in satisfying requests – the patient, after receiving a positive decision, goes to a civil court and fights for larger sums. The analysis of the commission’s statistics also shows that the vast majority of decisions are made in favor of patients, which can lead to an increase in the number of unfounded claims. Another change was made by the Minister of Justice, who considered it justified to create units in prosecutor’s offices responsible for cases involving negligence towards patients.

The reorganization was introduced by order of the Minister of Justice of April 7, 2016 – Regulations for the internal activity of the unified organizational units of the prosecutor’s office (Journal of Laws, p. 508). The decree provides that departments may be set up in regional prosecutor’s offices to deal with and supervise cases of medical errors that have led to the death of a patient (Article 27, paragraph 1, Article 27 of the Rules of Procedure). On the other hand, manageable units can be created at the level of regional prosecutor’s offices.

and the supervision of the aforementioned cases leading to serious injury to the human body (§ 29, section 2, paragraph 1). The changes should be seen as an unequivocal statement by the government on the priorities of the state’s criminal policy – the effective prosecution of crimes committed by medical staff.