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Ma endorses limits on medical malpractice claims

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday he supports passing a bill that would instate liability limits for medical malpractice claims.

The bill, which is pending review in the Legislative Yuan, would make medical personnel liable for criminal punishment only if they acted with “malicious intent” or in violation of duty.

Ma said Sunday that he has listened to the concerns of many doctors and understands that by its very nature, medical treatment has risks. These risks should not be borne completely by the physician, Ma told the Taiwan Pharmacist Association (藥師公會全聯會).

When he and his wife arrived at a New York hospital for the birth of daughter Lesley Ma (馬唯中), the first thing they did was sign a hospital form explaining that “medical care is not an exact science,” Ma said.

Malpractice claims proliferate in Taiwan and can result in severe penalties for medical personnel. As a result, domestic physicians tend to avoid fields such as surgery and emergency room treatment, according to the bill drafted by the Department of Health (DOH). The DOH developed the bill after the premier called for solutions to Taiwan's dwindling pool of qualified physicians in the key departments.

Besides raising the standard of domestic medical care, the government is also committed to improving the working environment of Taiwan's physicians, said Ma.

Meanwhile, civic groups put forward a petition to suspend review of the bill until the next Legislative session.

Petition for Delay

Eva Teng (滕西華), of the National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance (民間監督健保聯盟), said the DOH bill is barely 20 days old. She said this is not enough time for concerned parties to forge consensus on pivotal variables such as the quality of medical mediators and appropriate protocol for the compensation program.

The alliance endorsed a petition for lawmakers to suspend a bill review until the next session.

If the Legislative Yuan rushes review for a hasty clearance before recess, the end result will be a disaster, according to the petition.

Signatories also included Lai Shiow-suey (賴秀穗), a professor at National Taiwan University's School of Veterinary Medicine; Andrew T. Huang (黃達夫) of the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center; and the Taiwan Women's Link (台灣女人連線).

1 Comment
January 7, 2013    philippemckay@
If it is not an "exact" science, and medical practitioners wish to minimize the risk of baring the cost of their behavior....maybe they should also have their salaries curbed as well.
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