Sinchew Daily Interview (Part 3)
We Don’t Like This Mistake! What Should We Do When A Medical Dispute Occurs?
Lawyer Khoo, P.J.K. (NSDK)(LEFT), our firm's Partner being interview by Sin Chew Daily.
Translated From Chinese Version
Everyone does not want to be troubled, and when they encounter disputes, they will choose to settle down. Therefore, if we unfortunately encounter medical disputes and do not want to go to court, who should we seek assistance?
Dr. Ashok Zachariah Philip advised the public to encounter medical disputes. The first thing to do is to seek explanation from the doctor in charge of treatment and clarify the reasons behind it. If you can’t get a satisfactory answer, you can directly complain to the hospital or seek professional advice from the Malaysian Medical Association(MMA).
At that time, the government hospital will set up a council to clarify the truth, and private medical institutions must comply with the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act to investigate complaints made by patients. Generally, if the hospital finds a mistake, it will be willing to compensate the party for the loss.
To file a complaint with the Malaysian Medical Association, it is necessary to provide relevant medical information, such as bills, time and place of treatment, medical prescriptions, etc. The Malaysian Medical Association will assist in clarifying the truth of medical disputes for free. However, the authority of the Malaysian Medical Association is limited to assisting in clarification and to inform the parties and doctors of the relevant investigation results, and does not have the right to punish.
Therefore, after confirming the establishment of a medical dispute, the party may entrust a lawyer to issue a lawyer letter to the relevant doctor to claim compensation, and the doctor will also entrust the lawyer to discuss with the party’s lawyer to reach an agreement.
“Doctors have to buy medical liability insurance, usually insurance companies will provide compensation to the parties in order to avoid going to court.”
Dr. Ashok Zachariah Philip said that if the parties fail to reach an agreement in the end, it depends on the parties who have to challenge the doctor’s professional qualifications or claim compensation. If you want to challenge the professional qualifications of doctors, you can file a complaint with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC); if the parties request compensation, they can only enter the judicial process.
He added that when a doctor behaves inappropriately, the Malaysian Medical Council can conduct a hearing under the medical decree. The party or family must take time to attend the hearing and hire a lawyer, which usually takes at least one year.
The penalties of the Medical Council of Malaysia are limited to the control of the professional qualifications of doctors, including punishment, suspension of professional qualifications of doctors within a certain period of time, and revocation of professional qualifications. In addition, for all cases that enter the judicial process, the Medical Council of Malaysia will not intervene.
The President of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Dr. Ashok Zachariah Philip (pictured above) pointed out that the most common medical errors stem from communication problems between doctors and patients. Lawyer Khoo (pictured below) said that the scope of medical errors is wide and reminds patients to pay more attention to the sequelae after treatment.
Matters needing attention in medical disputes
Many people have an attitude of staying away from courts, because once they go to court, it takes a lot of time, money and energy to face numerous problems. When it is not avoidable, what action should the people take?
Lawyer Khoo said that after medical disputes are brought to court, they will be tried in civil lawsuits so that the parties or their families can claim compensation. Medical affairs cases usually take 9 months to be tried, but they may be adjusted according to the complexity of the case.
She said that the handling of medical error cases is a very complicated process, and there are many details that need to be paid attention to, especially during the treatment process, many medical personnel have contacted with the patient, causing the parties and their families to not clearly indicate which medical personnel caused the medical error .
She suggested that when people encounter medical disputes, they must hire a lawyer with relevant experience to assist them. After entrusting a lawyer, the lawyer will request information from relatives and friends who have been taking care of the client for a long time, such as the registration number of the client at the time of medical treatment.
Subsequently, the lawyer will obtain a medical report from the relevant department based on the registration number. However, because the court has not yet entered the judicial process, the hospital will only provide a short medical report, which will only list the basic information about what disease the person has. Therefore, in order to obtain a more detailed medical report, you must first file a court case. Before entering the court, the lawyer will first analyze the contents of the medical report with a professional doctor, and then clarify the ins and outs of the treatment period with relatives.
After it is determined that a medical negligence has occurred, the lawyer will formally enter the court and apply to the court for a court order in order to obtain a medical report containing the treatment procedure from the hospital. At this time, the prosecution lawyer will ask the doctor who is willing to appear in court to write an appropriate medical report for the client, so as to prove that the original medical procedure was wrong.
In addition, lawyers will sort out the units or persons who should be sued based on more detailed medical reports. Lawyer Khoo said that this is a very important part, because the wrong object of the prosecution will cause the plaintiff to be unable to obtain compensation and must pay the cost of court fees.
On the other hand, during the trial, the defendant can also seek a doctor as a witness to prove that his medical procedures were correct. Therefore, the key to judging whether the medical error is true lies in how the judge weighs the evidence presented by both parties.
The amount of compensation for medical disputes will be measured according to 3 conditions:
1) Compendium of Personal Injury Awards
This is a guide specified by the Malaysian Bar Council, which clearly states that different body parts are damaged, and the scope of compensation sought will also be adjusted according to.
2) Case Law
Similar cases in the past will become the basic criteria for compensation in this case. Simply put, the judge will set the scope of compensation based on the amount of compensation in similar cases in the past.
3) Victim’s ability to work
Usually medical errors cause the person’s ability to work affected or loss the ability to work, and this will cause the amount of compensation to increase. Lawyer Khoo pointed out that in our country, if the victim is source of income for the family, the compensation for incapacity will be higher than the compensation for death due to medical errors.
Sources: Sin Chew Daily