Not everyone is aware of the fact that medicine is the most complicated branch of the economy. Importantly, it is extremely dynamic and developing at an unprecedented pace in other fields. New therapies that no one has heard about are entering medical markets, such as transplants, gene therapies, immunotherapy, bio-stimulants, bio-implants and personalized medicine.
Along with the development of individual fields of medicine, there is a need to formally regulate individual health activities, both in individual and systemic terms. Regulations are dealt with by relevant authorities, while the responsibility for the implementation of specific services is borne by the doctor or his parent unit – a clinic or hospital. The doctor is obliged to, inter alia, The Act on the Medical Profession, the Act on Patients’ Rights, the Act on Medical Activity as well as hundreds of regulations regarding the implementation of specific services. Constantly changing regulations and the complexity of individual regulations make running a medical activity more and more complicated and it is obvious that a doctor needs legal assistance. In many European countries and the USA, doctors not only take out additional professional insurance, but also regulate their professional affairs with the help of specialized medical law attorneys .
Specialist medical law firms and a large group of individual medical lawyers operating in the field of health have also been established in Poland .
Legal assistance for patients
- Medical errors.
The patient has the right to sue a doctor or medical facility for medical errors that resulted in deterioration of health or loss of life. The catalog of errors is wide – from leaving the material or a surgical tool in the body of the sick, to abandoning the therapy, making the wrong choice (according to the patient) of the treatment method, including too late implementation of the therapy.
In such cases, a medical law attorney will make a preliminary assessment of the patient’s or family’s claim, advise on whether to file a civil claim, file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, or help bring a complaint to the professional liability ombudsman.
- Compulsory treatment, informed consent, patient incapacitation and pensions.
A medical law attorney helps the patient and his family in such matters as compulsory treatment, determining informed consent or disagreement with the provision of health services, incapacitation or not of the patient, and determination of the pension if the disability was caused by medical malpractice, and the determination of the amount of compensation due to health suffered as a result of poor treatment.
- Equal access to health services.
Medical law offices that represent entire groups of patients before state authorities in the implementation of their constitutional rights, e.g. implementation of the provisions of the Act on Patients’ Rights regarding equal access to health services, are becoming more and more active. Patients who do not have access to treatments available elsewhere in Europe, such as patients with rare genetic diseases, ask for legal aid.
Legal aid for doctors
In any situation where a patient sues a doctor for suspected medical error, the doctor has the right to legal aid. Specialized medical law attorneys represent doctors before civil or peer courts and assist in the legal formulation of the entire scope of the accusation.
- Violation of personal rights and violation of the Regulation on the protection of personal data.
While doctors are bound by the Code of Medical Ethics, this law does not apply to patients. Increasingly, doctors report to a lawyer in matters relating to the infringement of their personal rights or the violation of the GDPR (e.g. Internet hate, public disclosure of facts about a doctor’s private life).
Doctors are victims of physical aggression from patients. In this regard, they can also count on legal aid.
- Labor law.
The form of employing doctors in health care facilities is diverse. Some doctors work full-time with the National Health Fund, others start their own business. In addition, individual institutions offer different rates and not all of them respect the principles of labor law. There are also mobbing behavior by medical employers. Young doctors have doubts about the settlement of their work and employment. A medical law attorney also in this respect represents doctors before the labor court.
Settlement of court disputes and amicable negotiations
Not all disputes have to end in court. Some of them are dissolved during negotiations between the medical lawyer and the parties. Thanks to mediation and negotiations, it manages to resolve disputes amicably and avoid many years of endless lawsuits. Medical law today requires highly specialized legal services. There are a large number of health care system stakeholders – patients, doctors, medical centers, state authorities and private companies. The institution of a medical law attorney is therefore indispensable.