Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 24, 2007

Chua Supports Suggestion To Set Up Specialist Panels

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

PETALING JAYA, April 23 (Bernama) — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has supported a suggestion for the setting up of specialist panels to reduce the number of medical negligence cases brought to court.
He said it was a good suggestion and one in conformity with the Private Health Care Facilities and Services Act 1998.
A provision under the act states that all private hospitals should set up a grievance committee to look into complaints by patients and give a satisfactory reply within 14 days.
If the private hospitals failed to give a satisfactory reply within the period, the complainants could forward their complaints to the Director-General of Health who would initiate an investigation before the case was brought to court, he said.
Chua was responding to retired High Court judge Datuk R.K. Nathan’s suggestion on Saturday which was seen as being able to lessen the trauma on doctors, patients and their families.
Nathan had said that medical specialists should form their own guilds according to their discipline and each guild would then set up a panel of its own specialists to look into complaints of negligence to ascertain whether there was a need for a particular doctor to settle the case or fight it out in court.
Chua said private hospitals should initiate their own investigation before the director-general acted against them.
“We hope patients will avail themselves of these facilities under the Act but not many of them are doing it,” he added.
He said the ministry was still amending the Medical Act 1971 on the role of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to make it more transparent, democratic and fair to the patients.
Under the amendments, the MMC’s board, which currently comprises practising doctors only, should also have representation from laymen to give it more credibility.
The amendments would also allow complainants to intervene in the legal proceedings before the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC).
“Previously, the complainants can be present with their lawyers at the proceedings but cannot intervene,” he said.
Under the new act, the jurisdiction of the MMC would be enhanced where it would be able to look into professional issues besides ethical issues and infamous conduct of doctors as is the case now.
“This is important as we can see more patients coming to file their complaints on the services rendered which do not meet their level of expectation,” he said.
Complainants would also be able to appeal to the civil court should their complaints be rejected by the MMC.

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