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Civic groups urge amendment of medical malpractice regulations

2012/04/27 18:09:25

Taipei, April 27 (CNA) Various civic groups urged lawmakers Friday to amend medical malpractice regulations under the Medical Care Act.

Speaking in a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, the groups were seeking medical reforms in light of a recent announcement by the Taipei City Department of Health that it had sent a case involving nine National Taiwan University Hospital staff who used HIV-positive organs in transplant operations to the city's medical disciplinary committee.

The staff in question accidentally transplanted the HIV-positive organs into five patients last August.

In addition, the groups asked the Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH) to publish the results of an investigation into the cases.

Chu Hsieh-kuan, the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation chief of research and development, said the case shows that the DOH has been unable to solve problems in the medical system and that the Medical Care Act needs to be amended.

Chu expressed hope the government would form a cross-agency task force and invite medical experts to jointly investigatethe causes and publish analyses of serious medical malpracticecases.

The groups also recommended the adoption of a no-fault medical compensation system as practiced in some other countries to cope with medical malpractice issues.

Under this system, patients must prove that their injuries were caused by medical treatment, but doctors will not face blame or responsibility if it is shown that the malpractice was not intentional.

Countries that have adopted the system have established a medical compensation and insurance fund for patients so that patients can be automatically compensated for injury sustained as a result of medical care, said Yeh Kuang-peng, a doctor at Changhua Christian Hospital in central Taiwan.

The system also spares doctors from lengthy legal procedures and helps reduce the number of medical lawsuits, said Yeh.

Another benefit of the system is that doctors are more willing to admit their mistakes and assist patients with compensation applications, Yeh added.

Tai Ming-cheng, deputy secretary-general of the Ophthalmalogical Society of Taiwan, said a litigation system in which doctors can be blamed for medical malpractice tends to encourage them to practice defensive medicine in which the patient might not get the best possible course of treatment.

The no-fault system encourages doctors to admit wrongdoing, helps clarify the truth behind medical malpractice cases, improves the quality of medical care and protects the people's right to medical care, said Tai.

(By Tseng Ying-yu and C.J. Lin)