Amount of medical malpractice cases
Poland - other countries
a data comparison

Everybody make mistakes. A Journalist, a shoemaker and a doctor. Doctor's mistakes aren't an effect of deliberate actions, but they happen frequently. A situation of victims is not worth envying. In Poland the more important thing is escape from bearing responsibility than help to injured person. The victim pays for it with his/her life or health. When they (injured) try to fight for help or right to means of living, they run into a wall. If the mistake is easy to repair, most of doctors try to help.The tragedy appears when it is hard to repair the effect of malpractice and a treatment is expensive. Doctors don't want to designate guilty person and they let the victims suffer. Victim's family live in misery and spend leftovers of money for trying to save health injured person. Nobody treats the victim, who spends time for lodging complaints to departments, ministers, members of Parliament or spokesmen. Departments send letters according to authorities, it takes years... Sometimes happens that the problem doesn't live to sentence and is resolved in natural way.... Below, in a data we try to show a large scale of this kind situations.

Amount of doctor's mistakes in USA, data taken from Harvard School of Public Health.
The american source (Harvard School of Public Health) announces that due to doctor's mistakes in one year:
  1. die about 100 000 people;
  2. suffer the long-term consequences or are being mutilate about 200 000 people.
The analysis carried out by Harvard School of Public Health is so important that is being used by President of USA. Data resulted from analysis, carried out on the the basis of 32000 medicine documents from american hospitals. If our medicine were on american level and results of american research linked to a country the size of Poland it would turn out that as a result of doctor's mistake every year: 1. die about 15 000 people; 2. suffer the long-term consequences or are being mutilate about 30 000 people.
Within average human life (76 years) in a country the size of Poland, as a result of doctor's mistakes die about 1 100 000 people and 2 200 000 become a cripple. We draw a conclusion that 5% of society (2 200 000 of 40 000 000 people) become crippled and 3% (1 100 000 of 40 000 000 people) die. They burden each of us with 8% a risk (5%+3%), that someday we become a victim of doctor's mistake. There are a lot of WWW sites which deal with this kind of medical malpractice and statistics in USA, below we show examples:
Amount of mistakes and statistics of compensation in Sweden
In the middle of 70 ths first in Sweden and then in other scandinavian countries was being established a consortium of few companies, specialized in insurance against medical malpractice. In Sweden, Sweedish Patient Insurance Association consists of nine insurers. These companies consider in a verdict way (very quickly) each patient's claims and pay financial resources in order to repair doctor's mistakes (treatment) or compensation. Doctors and hospitals, who bought an insurance are protected against financial consequences their bad decisions. Hospitals or doctors, who didn't buy the insurance are open to lawsuit and financial consequences. Now in Sweden live about 9 000 000 citizens, there are about 9 500 complaints each year, 45 % (4000) of them are taken into consideration. When a patient meet with a refusal of insurer, he/she can appeal against an insurer's decisions. If our medicine were on sweden level and amount of compensation linked to a country the size of Poland it would turn out that each year, due to doctor's mistakes it should be paid about 20 000 compensation. In a country like Sweden, each of us have 4% risk of doctor's mistakes. Data came from publication of The Swedish Patient Insurance -a pragmatic solution Carl Espersson Legal Advisor 2000 - Patientforsakringsforeningen.
Situation in Poland - data from CBOS

Almost everybody know someone, who suffer as a result of doctor's mistakes. Public opinion poll carried out on 1094 people by CBOS in november 2000 confirm this situation.Almost 31% respondents declare encounter with mistakes in treatment or appropriate care defects. More details you can find on CBOS site. (in polish)

Colossal amount of mistakes indicated by CBOS caused we decided compare CBOS'es data with separately polled questionnaire.

1. Group of respondents.
We sent our questionnaire to 19 500 users of email. Email addresses have been taken from polish internet resources. Over half of them was wrong (9 900) emails returned as unable to deliver. 10 100 was received by users, 12% (1282) replied. We collected replies about 7 days.

2. Question
"Do you know any person, in your near family (parents, children, siblings, husband or wife), who became victim of medical malpractice? The thing is death, disability, long-term more than 3 months) disease."Respondent described it's own situation or near family, which on average consisted of 5 people.(Everybody has or had parents but not everyone has children or is married). Answers should show situation in 5*1282 = 6410 people. But 6% we treated as unreliable and these were rejected (see 3). In practice questionnaire shows situation of 6003 people.

3. Answers
36 % (465 people) - have never come across medical malpractice ( 0 injured)
37 % (468 people) - have come across one medical malpractice case (468 injured)
17 % (217 peole) - have come across two medical malpractice cases (434 injured)
4 % (57 people) - have come accross three medical malpractice cases (171 injured) in their near family.
Answers, where we found more than 3 mistakes we consider as unreliable and were rejected. It was about 6 % of all answers. Form of our questionnaire you can see on our server ( in polish )

4.The analysis of results and possible errors.
In questionnaire we got a report of 1073 serious medical malpractice cases in group of 6000 people. It follows that 18 % polish society (in near family opinion) suffer as a result of medical malpractice. Amount of doctor's mistakes came from our questionnaire is much lower than amount indicated by CBOS (31 %). Neither research carried out by CBOS nor our questionnaire is not information about real amount of mistakes because both are based on opinion gave by injured people or their family and not based on real documents. Unfortunatelly, in Poland there wasn't any objective research which could estimate amount of doctor's mistakes. Another our mistake is that reply in our questionnaire wasn't compulsory. A group of people couldn't be representative of society when consist mostly of doctor's and injured people.

Data from Medical Chamber - Poland
Advocate of professional responsibility act in Medical Chamber. They receive about 2000 complaints every year. In the meantime verdicts are pronounced in doctor's judgements. In 2000 year there were adjudicated and became valid 142 legal decisions discreted doctor's mistake. Data you can find on server owned by Medical Chamber: in polish ) - part 2 ( in polish )
Amount of doctor's mistakes which won approval by Medical Chamber is in conflict with data from USA, data from Sweden and social feeling from CBOS data and our questionnaire. According to data from Medical Chamber, amount of doctor's mistakes in country the size of Poland is 200 times fewer than in USA. This comparison is very meaningful and we leave it without any comment.Unfortunatelly, in Poland there wasn't any objective research which could estimate amount of medical malpractice.

We should amend our medical law, that every injured person could be permited to receive immediate medical help. It is dishonourable cruelty when injured, seriously ill person has to fight in court over help, it is dangerous for us. Parliament should appoint institution of Patient's Right Advocate, like Consumer Spokesman or Children Spokesman. Citizen's Right Spokesman doesn't have means and isn't capable of looking after this kind of tragedies. If we brought insurance like in Sweden into effect, we would avoid conflicts with patients and doctors. We should remember, that even though mistakes happen, they are not an effect of intentional activity. But what we have to point, they are hiden intentionaly, and injured pay for that with his/her life or health Data above show that this kind of tragedy touch thousands of people every year in Poland.

Adam Sandauer