In the Polish prosecutor’s office special departments dealing with medical malpractice have been created.

A sad doctor

Will medical cases be investigated by laymen?

Death of a patient – that’s a case for them. But it is unclear who exactly will investigate cases of possible doctors’ errors. The medical Professional Liability Commissioner (Rzecznik Odpowiedzialności Zawodowej – ROZ) also knows very little about it.

In the regional prosecutor’s offices departments for cases of medical errors, resulting in death of a patient, may be set up. At the district prosecutor’s offices departments to supervise cases which result in serious damage to the human body may be established” – we read on the pages of the National Prosecutor’s Office website.

The communication between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Professional Liability Commissioner should be improved. If this is to replace (the Professional Liability Commissioner), I think that legal knowledge alone is not enough for prosecutors to assess whether the death of a patient was due to malpractice or not. If there was a medical error, or not – says Maciej Hamankiewicz, President of the Supreme Chamber of Physicians (Naczelna Izba Lekarska).

A national prosecutor was asked on what basis the prosecutors investigating medical malpractice will be appointed. He only gave a general reply that they will be prosecutors with professional experience and expertise.

Prosecutors can primarily initiate proceedings in such cases, may submit an indictment against a particular doctor, for example, but may also apply to court for compensation for the patient – emphasises lawyer Tomasz Siemiński.

The national prosecutor’s decision about the creation of departments investigating cases of medical errors results from a regulation of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Zbigniew Ziobro.

The Minister of Justice, who is the Attorney General, is always under a certain amount of political pressure. I do not know whether it is a good idea, that we go towards such a specialisation of the prosecution. Because if there is a special prosecutor for doctors, then there will be a special prosecutor for teachers, a special prosecutor for architects – says Bartosz Arłukowicz, a doctor and former health minister.

Prosecution Independent Departments for Medical Errors were created in Warsaw, Katowice, Krakow and Lublin.

According to unofficial information, the Professional Liability Commissioner (ROZ), with whom the new sections in the prosecutor’s offices should cooperate, about their creation learnt from the media.


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