Background and objective: There are no reliable data in Germany on the incidence of medical malpractice, preliminary proceedings against medical practitioners and the results of such proceedings. Preliminary proceedings are especially felt by medical practioners to be a significant burden on them. Material and methods: A retrospective study was carried out of all criminal proceedings involving accusations of medical malpractice, dealt with at the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Bonn between 1989 and 2003. Results: The analysis comprised 210 preliminary proceedings. The accusations mainly concerned offences against the patient's life or health (negligent bodily injury, § 229 StGB; negligent manslaughter, § 222 StGB). Most of the preliminary proceedings were started without the services of a lawyer representing the injured/bereaved. Many accused medical practitioners also had not engaged a lawyer, probably because they did not even know of the preliminary proceeding. 87% of the proceedings were closed according to § 170 Abs. 2 StPO or the verdict was acquittal. 7.6% of the cases were completed according to § 153a Abs. 1 StPO or the result was a conviction. Conclusion: Preliminary proceedings against medical practitioners due to medical malpractice are predominantly closed according to § 170 Abs. 2 StPO. The study reveals that, especially in cases ending in death, autopsy findings often exonerate medical practitioners from accusations of medical malpractice. Medical practitioners themselves should for this reasons officially report the manner of death as of undetermined in order to prepare a basis for later objective explanation of the cause of death by legal autopsy.
|Translated title of the contribution||Outcome of preliminary proceedings against medical practitioners suspected of malpractice|
|Journal||Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 22.09.2006|