President Andrzej Duda signed two new laws in the field of medical care. One concerns compensation for medical malpractice, the other focuses on the quality of healthcare and patient safety.
On August 7, 2023, the Chancellery of the President announced that Andrzej Duda had signed 6 new laws – two of them related to health. We are talking about the Act of June 16, 2023 amending the Act on Patient Rights and the Patient Ombudsman and some other acts, as well as the Act of June 16, 2023 on quality in healthcare and patient safety. The laws come into force 14 days after their publication. What exactly will change?
New rules for granting compensation for medical malpractice
The Act of June 16, 2023 amending the Act on Patient Rights and the Patient Ombudsman and some other acts provides for the implementation of a new out-of-court compensation model for damages suffered by patients as a result of medical events. The voivodeship committees for adjudicating on medical events will be replaced by an out-of-court system of compensation for medical events operated by the Ombudsman for Patients’ Rights.
The amendment to the act assumes that the patient will be able to pursue claims for medical errors on a new, faster and out-of-court path. After considering the application, the money is to be paid from the Medical Events Compensation Fund. However, the patient will receive such compensation only if the medical event occurred during the provision of services in the hospital.
With the entry into force of the new regulations, the injured person will be able to submit a claim for compensation to the Patient Rights Ombudsman. The new rules are to speed up, among other things, the payment of money that is needed by an injured patient, for example for rehabilitation.
The amount of compensation for the injured patient
The Act also specifies the range of the amount that can be obtained in respect of compensation – a compensatory benefit. In case of:
- infection with a biological pathogen – from PLN 2,000 to PLN 200,000;
- bodily injury or health disorder – from PLN 2,000 to PLN 200,000;
- patient’s death – from PLN 20,000 to PLN 100,000.
Submitting applications for such a compensation benefit will be possible for one year from the date of learning about the medical event, but not longer than three years from the date of occurrence of this event. The decision on granting such a benefit will be issued by the Patient Rights Ombudsman (after obtaining the opinion of the Team for Benefits from the Medical Events Compensation Fund). The injured person will be able to appeal against such a decision to the Appeal Committee for Benefits from the Medical Events Compensation Fund, operating at the Patient Rights Ombudsman.
Improving quality in health care
Andrzej Duda also signed the act on quality in health care and patient safety. It aims to improve the effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment through the systematic assessment of clinical quality indicators. Legal and administrative solutions will be implemented. As we read in the act, such solutions “will implement the priorities of health policy in the area of quality in health care in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.” As a consequence, these actions will also lead to:
improving patient safety and satisfaction by recording and monitoring adverse events,
obtaining comparability of entities that provide services in terms of the quality and effectiveness of the care offered.
Patient safety – introduction of new solutions
Such “internal systems” of quality and safety management will have to be implemented by all entities that provide services financed under an agreement with the National Health Fund. They are to consist of rules, procedures, methods and job descriptions in order to prevent the occurrence of adverse events.
A special authorization will also be granted by the president of the National Health Fund. It will be available to an entity that runs an internal quality and safety management system and provides healthcare services, subject to the statutory conditions for their implementation. The list of entities that:
have been authorized,
they were denied authorization,
their authorization was revoked.
Another element, apart from the internal system and obtaining authorization, is to be accreditation, confirming that the entity performing medical activity meets the accreditation standards for the provision of healthcare services and the operation of this entity. It will be awarded for 4 years in the form of an accreditation certificate. The last element provided for by the act is the “medical records”. Their purpose is to monitor the quality of healthcare services provided in the entities.