2005 issue 4


Volume 14, issue 4

Case report

Unauthorized medical certificates issued by psychiatrists in criminal proceedings

Danuta Hajdukiewicz1
1. Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (4): 367-376
Keywords: accountability, capacity to be a party in criminal proceedings, capacity to serve a term of imprisonment


Objectives. Medical certificates issued by psychiatrists on their patients' request that include not only information about the administered treatment, but also a psychiatric diagnosis and psychiatric court opinions are unauthorized, as in such cases the authors act in the capacity of a court expert although they have not been appointed by the authority conducting criminal proceedings. Since such medical certificates are issued with increasing frequency, the problem was presented in the paper so as to draw attention to inappropri-ateness of such practices.

Case reports. Legal grounds for the appointment of court experts in psychiatry in criminal proceedings (Article 202 par. 3 and 4 of the penal code) are referred to in the paper, with an emphasis on the tasks of expert psychiatrists. Two cases are reported where unauthorized opinions (including psychiatric expertise) were issued by psychiatrists not being court experts.

Commentary. The psychiatrist providing treatment has a right to issue on the patient's request a certificate that the patient is in treatment. However, inclusion of psychiatric court opinions in such a certificate is unauthorized: no psychiatrist should act as a court expert in a case of his/her patient, as he/she may be accused ofpartiality.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Danuta Hajdukiewicz, Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii,
ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa