eISSN: 1689-1716
ISSN: 0324-8267
Archiwum Medycyny Sądowej i Kryminologii/Archives of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
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Artykuł oryginalny

Malpractice-related deaths resulting from failure of due diligence. Decisions of Polish medical disciplinary boards

Iwona Wrześniewska-Wal

Department of Medical Law and Medical Certification, School of Public Health, Medical Centre of Postgraduate Education, Warsaw, Poland
Arch Med Sadowej Kryminol 2021
Data publikacji online: 2021/05/23
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The presented cases are related to failure of due diligence found in the binding decisions of medical disciplinary boards in three centres in Poland, showing in what percentage of the cases the patient died, and answering the question of whether the number of deaths changed, and if yes, then why.

Material and methods
The material for this study was collected as a result of the analysis of disciplinary files from 410 final and binding cases before the regional boards in Warsaw, Poznan, and Lodz in 2015–2018, which covers 12.5% of Poland’s total caseload.

During the 4 years of decisions studied, one can observe only a minimal downward trend in the number of cases relating to failure of due diligence by physicians in diagnosis and treatment. Patient deaths occurred mainly in such medical fields as surgery, neurology, cardiology, and obstetrics, in 2015–2016 – a total of 28 in Warsaw, 23 in Lodz, and 8 in Poznan.

A reduction in the number of such cases coming up before medical disciplinary boards is primarily the consequence of the growing involvement of the law enforcement/public prosecutors’ offices for offences involving medical error. Currently, the legal awareness of Polish patients or, in this case, their families is focused not so much on the fact that a case has to be brought for potential medical error but on which path to take the case so as to win damages, compensation, or an annuity from the physician or from the medical establishment.

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