Medical negligence subject to criminal law

Wiad Lek. 2019;72(11 cz 1):2161-2166.


Objective: Introduction: Legal liability for medical negligence should contribute to the protection of patients' rights to life and health. At the same time, unreasonably strict sanctions against physicians should be analyzed much closely. More balanced model of such liability requires serious in-depth research. The aim of the article is to stimulate discussion about the necessity to improve the criminal legislation and judicial practice of criminal liability execution.

Patients and methods: Materials and methods: This study is based on the analysis of international law, WHO documents, jurdicial practice and statistics, criminal and medical law legal doctrine (29 laws and papers, 97 court judgments were analyzed). Dialectical, comparative, analytic, synthetic and system analysis research methods were used, also for interpretation purposes.

Conclusion: Conclusions: An effective legal mechanism should ensure the timeliness and thoroughness of the investigation and prosecution of each case of medical negligence to prevent the recurrence of such consequences in the future. Legal liability (civil, disciplinary or criminal) for medical negligence is a necessary part of this mechanism. The inevitability of criminal punishment rather than its severity should be recognized as a core for the medical negligence prevention concept. That's why the long-term imprisonment for medical negligence as a form of punishment should be recognized as socially unreasonable, it cannot improve the protection of patients' life and health but leads to significant negative social complications instead.

Keywords: medical mistake; medical negligence; criminal punishment; legal liability; patient rights.

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Law
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Malpractice*
  • Patient Rights