Thailand’s government and the country’s medical community are debating the proposed new legislation to provide comprehensive coverage to patients against medical malpractice. The state has said that the law would strengthen patients’ rights and reduce the time and money spent in litigation, while health professionals claim it would add to medical expenses and the workload of practitioners.
Under the Medical Malpractice Victim Protection Bill, all hospitals and clinics would be required to make financial contributions to a special compensation fund for patients who are victims of medical malpractice. The government says that the bill will provide for a no-faults compensation system that will allow patients to apply for support without having to go to court or have their case be subject to a lengthy investigation.
However, medical professionals are worried that the legislation could pave the way for even more lawsuits, using the granting of compensation under the scheme as proof of malpractice. In particular, opponents of the bill are concerned about section 45 of the draft legislation, which says that doctors could face criminal charges and punishment if convicted of medical malpractice.
With such a threat hanging over their heads, doctors say that health care professionals might be reluctant to take on high-risk cases, and would be forced to work more slowly and cautiously while seeking to avoid mistakes. The new law would result in reduced efficiency, according to Somkid Auapisithwong of the Thai Federation of Doctors, Main Hospitals and General Hospitals.
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