Several medical organizations yesterday rallied behind surgeons from National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) who transplanted organs from an HIV-positive donor in August last year, saying individual doctors should not be singled out to pay compensation.
Nine doctors involved in the case were reported by the Taipei City Government’s Department of Health to the disciplinary committee of physicians on Monday.
Yesterday, representatives from seven medical associations, organized by the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, told a press conference at the legislature that although the committee had not made a decision on the punishment of the doctors, many people working in the field were concerned about the outcome, particularly those in departments with higher risks and critically ill patients.
Chu Hsieh-kuang (朱顯光), head of development at the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation said the Department of Health had not clarified the systemic elements in the case to the public and failed to introduce measures to prevent a similar incident occurring.
An analysis of the root causes should be made with inter--departmental cooperation and medical specialists investigating the case, Chu said, adding that if the individuals involved were blamed and systemic problems ignored similar incidents could easily happen in other departments.
The groups called on lawmakers to amend medical malpractice regulations under the Medical Care Act (醫療法).
Changhua Christian Hospital gynecologist Yeh Guang-peng (葉光芃) said that medical compensation verdicts are occasionally too focused on individual doctors.
As a result fewer medical students were showing an interest in departments that experienced a higher rate of medical disputes, such as the department of obstetrics and gynecology, he added.
Yeh suggested that adopting the “no blame compensation system” used by several northern European countries would encourage doctors to report and learn from their mistakes, or even help the patients seek compensation.
The system also spares doctors from lengthy legal procedures and helps to reduce the number of medical lawsuits, Yeh said.
The department should also work to improve the systemic problems related to standard transplant processes, instead of placing all the blame on the nine doctors in the August case, Federation of Medical Students in Taiwan deputy chairperson Chu Yen-hao (朱彥豪) said, adding that medical students would avoid high-risk departments if the medical environment did not improve, which could lead to a deterioration in the quality of treatment available.
Additional reporting by CNA