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Gorzów Wielkopolski. The doctor disconnected the patient from life support devices and was charged with murder

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A doctor from Ukraine, Andriy K., is suspected of murdering 86-year-old Daniel Z. by disconnecting him from life support devices. The Minister of Justice received an open letter in his defense signed by two thousand doctors, nurses, professors and authorities in the field of anesthesiology and intensive care.

A conference was organized at the Multi-Specialized Provincial Hospital on Saturday, during which the issue of Andriy K., an anesthesiology and intensive care resident, was discussed. Experts, hospital management and representatives of the medical self-government spoke.

Prof. Mirosław Czuczwar, head of the 2nd Clinic of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at the Medical University of Lublin and member of the Management Board of the Polish Society of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, assessed that this case may not be clear for law enforcement agencies, courts, and the prosecutor's office. However, as he explained, doctors, especially anesthesiologists and intensivists, should not have any doubts.

– From a medical point of view, this case raises no doubts for someone who deals with patients whose lives are in immediate danger – he noted.

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READ: A doctor from Ukraine was charged with the murder of an 86-year-old man. The notification was submitted by his colleague from work.

Two thousand signatures and an open letter to the Minister of Justice

He said that there should be no situation in which several doctors decide to accuse a colleague of the most serious crime. The vast majority, as he pointed out, did not share their opinion.

– I have the proof in my hand. These are two thousand signatures of doctors, nurses, professors, recognized authorities in the field of anesthesiology and intensive care who decided to write an open letter to the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor General, protesting against this situation – he said.

He added that the event “may result in patients being afraid of what may happen to them in the hospital.” He noted that he is also afraid that some doctors may start acting inappropriately, “that is, using futile, persistent therapy that is wrong in every possible aspect.”

“There was no medical error in any way”

Prof. Maciej Żukowski, who was the head of the commission that inspected the hospital after the incident, emphasized that after a very thorough examination of the case together with the entire team, the only thing they could conclude was that there was no medical error in any way.

– We demonstrated organizational shortcomings, which we presented to the management board along with recommendations on what needs to be repaired. The management board immediately issued an order to remove these inconveniences. And currently, as far as I know, both medical documentation and the rules for transferring patients between the operating theater and intensive care have improved and we are working to ensure that these standards are as high as possible – he explained. In the context of patients' rights, he pointed to the right to die with dignity when therapy would be futile. – Our hospital provided this to the patient in this situation and it is the human aspect that is very important in my opinion – he added.

He explained that his opinion was based on the analysis of medical documentation and explanations provided by people interested in or participating in the patient's care. He said that the surgeon-operator, in the classification for the procedure, clearly wrote that it is a palliative procedure that is intended to reduce the patient's suffering associated with his underlying disease, but is unable to cure it.

“Andrii K. is not guilty of the patient's death”

Provincial consultant in the field of anesthesiology and intensive care, Wiesław Świtała, informed that he had examined the course of the event several times, talked to the hospital management and the head of the intensive care unit, and believed that Andrii K. was not responsible for the patient's death.

The Ombudsman for Physicians' Rights at the District Medical Chamber in Gorzów Wielkopolski, Ryszard Iliaszewicz, informed that immediately after receiving the information about the temporary arrest on the charge of murdering a patient, the District Medical Council in Gorzów Wielkopolski immediately sent a letter, and at the same time a position, to the Minister of Justice, Prosecutor General Adam Bodnar with a request to supervise the proceedings and, if possible, lift the pre-trial detention of the doctor.

Charges against nurses

Katarzyna Barna, director of nursing at the hospital, announced the allegations against two nurses. She explained that they are currently charged with failure to provide assistance. She assessed that it was in the common interest to clarify the situation as quickly and transparently as possible, “so that we truly know that the hospital here has completed all formalities.”

“High probability of committing the charged act by the suspect”

The District Prosecutor's Office in Gorzów Wielkopolski informed that the investigation is being conducted by the Investigation Department of the Provincial Police Headquarters in Gorzów Wielkopolski against the doctor Andrij K., suspected of an offense under Art. 148 § 1 of the Penal Code. This article states that “whoever kills a person shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a term of not less than 8 years, the penalty of 25 years' imprisonment or the penalty of life imprisonment.”

“The preparatory proceedings in question were initiated by the District Prosecutor's Office in Gorzów Wielkopolski, however, due to its importance, they were taken over for further conduct by the District Prosecutor's Office in Gorzów Wielkopolski,” it was explained.

It was noted that an elementary condition for applying all preventive measures, especially the most severe of them, pre-trial detention, is the high probability of the suspect committing the offense he is accused of.

“In this case, regardless of the prosecutor's office, the existence of this premise was also confirmed by the previously indicated courts,” it was reported. It was explained that intensive procedural activities were underway aimed at collecting evidence allowing for the verification of the course of events established so far.

A case of “major importance”

The medical self-government has expressed its opinion on this matter many times. Both the District Medical Council in Gorzów Wielkopolski and the Presidium of the Supreme Medical Council asked the Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Adam Bodnar to supervise the proceedings.

In the opinion of the Presidium of the Supreme Medical Council, the reason for including this preparatory procedure under supervision is that it is a matter of great importance due to its nature and the social effects it may have on the medical community and their patients. “The medical self-government strongly opposes the fact that in a case the essence of which is to assess whether the doctor maintained the standards of due diligence and acted in accordance with the current state of medical knowledge, the Prosecutor's Office brings charges of murder. The difference between a possible medical error of a professional medical worker and murder is huge and not it can be allowed to be blurred. Equating the suspicion of medical error with an accusation of murder undermines patients' trust, which is the foundation on which the entire health care system is built,” it was emphasized.

The possibility of causing difficult-to-predict negative effects in the medical community itself was pointed out. “The practice of many medical specialties is necessarily associated with the risk of treatment failure, but doctors who perform difficult and higher-risk medical activities cannot be confronted with the risk of being charged with murder by the prosecutor,” it was explained.

Requests from the Ombudsman for Physicians and the Ombudsman for Human Rights

Monika Potocka, the Ombudsman for Physician Rights of the Supreme Medical Chamber, turned to the Ombudsman Marcin Wiącek with a request to send a request to the prosecutor of the District Prosecutor's Office in Gorzów Wielkopolski to present information regarding the factual and legal basis for the actions taken, in particular the justification for applying for pre-trial detention, indicating the reference number of the case files, indicating whether expert opinions were sought in the case, and if yes, what are the conclusions from these opinions? Potocka emphasized that pre-trial detention is the most painful preventive measure, and before it is applied, alternatives to freedom should be considered, as well as the circumstances justifying abandoning the isolation of the accused or suspect.

Main photo source: Fakty TVN

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