A draft amendment to the Medical Care Act (醫療法) that would make medical personnel liable to face criminal punishment in legal disputes only if they are found to have acted “deliberately” or “violated their duty of care” would protect medical personnel while jeopardizing compensation for victims, legislators and civic groups said yesterday.
An increasing number of lawsuits concerning medical malpractice and other medical disputes have caused shortages of doctors. This led the Executive Yuan to approve an amendment proposed by the Department of Health last week to rationalize the possible penalties medical personnel face when involved in medical disputes.
However, Democratic Progressive Party legislators Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) and Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), joined by members of civic groups, said they were disappointed with the draft amendment’s emphasis on medical personnel’s rights and urged legislators to protect the rights of patients when they review the Cabinet’s amendment.
Huang Shu-ying (黃淑英), the chairperson of civic group Taiwan Women’s Link, said that what patients really want in a medical dispute are three things:
“The first is an apology, the second is the truth and the last is monetary compensation,” Huang said.
Although the Cabinet has also proposed a draft act on compensation in medical disputes and medical malpractice as a joint measure to protect patients’ rights, the groups said details of the compensation mechanism such as when it would be given are not outlined in the draft act, so they fear it could become a “blank check.”
Eva Teng (滕西華), a spokeswoman for the National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance, said: “In a situation of asymmetric information, where knowledge and economic status are seriously imbalanced, the patients often end up as the loser if they are forced to enter a negotiation mechanism.”
They asked the government to review the draft act again and bring the patients’ rights into consideration by adding articles such as demanding that the government provide assistance to patients in medical disputes.