THE FUNCTIONERING OF THE MEDICAL JURISDICTION SYSTEM IN POLAND
(dates and a commentary)
Medical jurisdiction system was established in 1989 by an act concerning Medical Chambers. The corporation of medical service providers gets from our Parliament, the low to judge all cases concerning medical malpractice between members of their own union and the rest of a society.
Documentation, opinions and verdicts prepared by the Medical Chambers determine a case's future. In practice, the public justice system uses this documentation in order to prevent legal proceedings against doctors.
A simplification of the procedure in cases conducted by medical jurisdiction follows:
The injured party refers a complaint to the Advocate of Professional Responsibility of the Medical Chamber. He can take a decision to initiate an investigation or to refuse. The injured party can appeal against any decision to the Advocate of the Main Medical Chamber, who can either reverse the decision or confirm it. The Advocate states whether the case will be sent to the Medical Court or dismissed after investigation, if such was initiated:
· In 1998 Advocates of Professional Responsibility of the Medical Chambers received more than 1600 complaints.
· In the same time, Advocates of Professional Responsibility refereed about 130 cases to the Medical Courts (8%).
· 1100 cases were dismissed or initiation of legal proceedings was refused (about 70%).
· The rest of cases were not arranged.
The Medical Court is a dual instance organ. The injured party is deprived of any rights in Medical Court. He can not ask questions or act as a prosecution council; he can only to be investigated. A case can be conducted in a court not only without his participation but can also be concealed from the injured party.
This is in direct contravention of Art.10 of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration and art. 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom.
· In 1998 Medical Courts considered 154 cases (including arrears from the previous year).
· 22 sentences were passed. Reprimands and admonitions were passed.
· In spite of the fact that there were fatal accidents, there was no case of any doctor being struck off the medical register.
Sentences were passed in only 1.4% of every complaints received by Advocates of Professional Responsibility in 1998.
The costs of cases conducted by the corporations jurisdiction is financed by the state budget.
Injured patients are afraid to claim their rights in Poland. We know from unofficial sources that the Ministry of Health and Social Care gets 20-30 thousands complaints and asks for help every year. This is 15 times more than complaints received by Medical Chambers.
The situation for a person who takes legal action against a doctor is very difficult. He is named as a "claiming patient" (as the fact that he was injured was his personal fault). He gets no help to remedy a medical malpractice. It is hard to imagine a worse injustice.
Toleration of this situation is a violation of art.3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom and the violation of art.5 United Nations Humans Rights Declarations
There is a rule which has been established: it is better that a "claiming patient" is not treated and will die, than to admit that it was a case of medical malpractice. The victim begs for help, left without any means to live and chances for a return to health. Degradation or the break-up of family happens next. In time the problem resolves itself; naturally...
However, doctors and medical staff who are responsible for instances of medical malpractice continue to work, leading to further tragedies. This is dangerous for all society.
16.09.1999 Warsaw; Adam Sandauer