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MPs craft medical malpractice bill

KUWAIT CITY, April 7: The parliamentary Legal and Legislative Committee has approved some amendments to the Medical Responsibility Bill - a first in the history of the country. The bill stipulates the need to protect the medical profession, as well as define the rights and duties of medical practitioners and patients who might be victims of medical errors.

The proponents of the bill have stressed the need to approve it due to reports of repeated medical errors in hospitals. The original version of the bill includes provisions on regulating the work of doctors, particularly the ways of dealing with patients. Relevant parliamentary committees are still revising the bill to pave the way for its submission to the Parliament for final approval.

The MPs, who submitted the bill, explained it is their way of addressing numerous medical malpractices that were never brought to justice. They also underscored the importance of identifying cases and situations which fall under the term “medical malpractice”, in addition to the importance of preventing errors in medical management which causes the loss of patients’ rights; hence, the need to determine penalties in such cases.

They affirmed the bill will safeguard the rights of medical practitioners, since they are also prone to harassment by patients. The bill is expected to be passed by the Assembly since it is widely supported by majority of the MPs and the government as well. In the meantime, sources revealed some articles of the bill are already stipulated in the existing medical laws, but this is the first proposal of its kind as it comprehensively safeguards patient rights and the practice of medicine, as well as effectively govern the field.

Lawmakers asserted this has been an ongoing issue which was never addressed effectively; therefore, a legislative intervention is necessary. The bill consists of 56 articles, which cover all aspects of the medicine sector. It starts with the definition of “medical malpractice” and the cases where practitioners will be responsible for their personal mistakes as stipulated in Article Two.

The bill prohibits doctors from planting natural or artificial organs in the patient’s body unless he is sure the organ fits the patient. It also forbids any work or interference to control or cut-off a woman’s reproduction capacity, except if it is in accordance with the conditions and procedures set by the Higher Committee for Medical Responsibility.

The bill also prohibits doctors from practicing their profession without insuring themselves against medical errors with one of the approved insurance companies in the country.

According to the bill, it is allowed to arrest or detain a doctor during investigation on any incident related to medical error, except in the interest of the investigation based on the order from the public prosecutor. The bill obliges doctors, who commit medical or facility errors, to compensate the victim for all sorts of damages inflicted on him or in case of death.

The bill stipulates the formation of a permanent medical and technical committee called the “Higher Committee for Ethics and Behavior in the Medical Field”, which will supervise medical practitioners during their practice, as well as investigate in case of any violation.

By: Ahmed Al-Naqeeb and Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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