Health professionals oppose criminalisation of no-fault medical errors

Healthcare workers staged a protest in Warsaw on Saturday against the introduction of regulations which they claimed make them criminally liable for no-fault medical errors. They also demanded an increase in healthcare spending by the state.

"We are protesting against the provision of imprisonment for unintentional medical malpractice included in the annex to the government's anti-crisis shield 4.0.(a COVID-19 relief package introduced to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic - PAP)," one of the protesters told PAP.

"We have been fighting, not from today, for an increase in spending on healthcare so that we can work with dignity, receive proper means that will allow us to save human lives and receive decent remuneration for it," he added.

They protesters marched from the health ministry's seat to the vicinity of the Polish parliament building, carrying banners which read "Let us work better" and "Stop threatening medics."

The protest was supported by the vice-president of Poland's Supreme Medical Council

Krzysztof Madej, who said the provision making doctors criminally responsible for no- fault medical errors was the result of the ignorance and stubbornness of politicians.

Referring to the protest, Ministry of Health Spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz told PAP on Saturday that Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski had recently met with Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro to talk about the legal formula for non-culpable medical errors.

"The Minister of Justice is open to proposals for changes in this respect. Certainly, the intention of the author of the new provision was not to tighten the regulations on medics," he said.

As for the protesters' demand of more funds to be allocated to medical care, the spokesman argued that the spending on health has been recently "incomparably higher" than in previous years.