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Medical ethics and professional liability of physicians


Physicians and dentists are obliged to observe the principles of professional ethics. These principles have been specified in chapter 5 ofthe Act of 5 December 1996 on professions of doctor and dentist.

According to the Medical Code of Ethics the greatest ethical imperative of a physician is the patient’s welfare.

The members of chambers of physicians and dentists are subject to professional liability for breaching the principles of medical ethics and regulations associated with the profession of physicians.

The proceedings concerning the subject of professional liability of physicians and dental practitioners is based on the provisions of Chapter 5 ofthe Act on chambers of physicians.

The bodies authorised to conduct the proceedings are: screeners for professional liability and medical courts.

Notifications on professional offences can be directed to the Regional Screener for Professional Liability. After examining the case the screener decides whether the case should be directed to the medical court.

The medical court may impose the following penalties

  1. caution,
  2. reprimand,
  3. fine,
  4. ban on performing managerial functions in health care organisational units for a period of one to five years,
  5. limitation of the scope of activities performed by a physician for a period of six months to two years,
  6. suspension of the right to practise the profession for a period of one to five years,
  7. deprivation of the right to practise the profession.

The injured party, the accused physician and the screener for professional liability are entitled to appeal against the decision of the District Medical Court to the Supreme Medical Court.

The parties, the Minister of Health and the President of the Supreme Medical Council are entitled to appeal against the ruling of the Supreme Medical Court to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Medical Council keeps the register of the punished physicians and dental practitioners of the Republic of Poland. The register is open to the persons and entities which demonstrate legal interest.

The principle of mutual independence applies when conducting proceedings related to professional liability of physicians, as well as criminal and disciplinary liability. This means that regardless of the proceeding pending before the self-government bodies, the injured party or – in the case of acts, for whose perpetration the physician is prosecuted ex officio – the prosecutor can appeal to hold the physician who committed a medical malpractice liable for criminal offence, which will be ruled by the Common Court. The aggrieved/injured party may also claim compensation or remedy for the suffered damage (harm) in civil proceedings.

Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health is an office of government administration serving the Minister of Health.

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