Medical disputes ‘need the truth’

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 - Page 3

Concerned about draft legislation on medical dispute resolution and compensation proposed by the Executive Yuan earlier this month, the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation said that compulsory mediation without investigations is not a solution, because the priority for up to 90 percent of complainants is to find out the truth

The Executive Yuan has approved a draft act in terms of which medical disputes are to be mediated at local health departments before going into judicial procedure, as well as a draft amendment to the Medical Care Act (醫療法) that rationalizes the possible penalties medical personnel face when they are involved in medical disputes.

Both drafts are awaiting review in the legislature.

Taiwan Health Reform Foundation chairperson Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君) said the foundation recognizes the government’s efforts to establish a no-blame culture and reduce the number of increasing medical lawsuits, but the compulsory mediation mechanism, that does not involve investigations to get to the truth, does not fulfill most people’s expectations.

The financial resource, the amount of compensation and the enforcement schedule are still unclear, so many people wonder if the compensation act will become another blank check without any real improvements, Liu said.

The foundation said a national survey conducted by a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital last month showed that up to 90 percent of people involved in medical disputes want to hear the truth and hope the quality of medical care can improve.

A survey conducted by the foundation in October also showed that most people requested the truth and an apology before compensation.

It said that according to its survey, about 75 percent of people involved in medical disputes in the past year did not apply for mediation at local health departments. Up to 56 percent of the respondents said this was because they did not trust the departments and were also concerned about the efficiency or attitude of the departments.

In addition, more than 40 percent of the people that have mediated their disputes at local health departments said that the mediation had become mere bargaining for compensation, because it lacked any investigation into the truth of the matter, the foundation added.

It said that another survey it conducted last month showed that 12 of the 19 local health departments expressed concern that if the mediation mechanism remains the same, without providing further assistance in investigating or reviewing of medical records, the degree of acceptance of the new act among the public will be limited.

In response, Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能), director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs, said the department would refer to the foundation’s opinions and suggestions when amending the act.