How will doctors feel secure while doing their work if they are afraid that arbitrary proceedings might be taken against them through the Criminal Law?
Due to a legislative shortfall in laws regulating the medical profession, these laws cannot make doctors feel secure nor provide a suitable working atmosphere for them to perform their jobs without fear of being thrown into jail, abused by patients or patients’ relatives, facing sudden travel ban or having to leave work in order to attend an investigation session in a falsified case filed against them.
Doctors struggle every day in their jobs because there is no legal immunity to save them from falsified cases filed by the furious relatives of patients or from those who beat and slander them just because some patients do not like how they work or because they prescribed a certain medicine.
Law No. 25 for the year 1981 on the medical profession in Kuwait has no stipulation on any solution or action that must be taken in case a doctor is disturbed or harassed due to his work. Despite the fact that doctors face these issues frequently, a lot of newspapers has told stories about doctors being beaten in their offices or insulted by patients because the patients do not like the results. Although doctors try their best to help patients, some patients cannot tell the difference between what is God given and what is given by the doctor. Health is given by God, while doctors can only prescribe medicines. This is why doctors are obligated by law to provide the best care to their patients, but they are never obligated to provide health because this is how the medical profession works worldwide. If doctors are obligated to provide health, then no doctor will be working in the entire world. At the end, health is a God-given matter.
Moreover, the Criminal Law guarantees the highest level of security to keep the accused in custody until the trial ends to ensure he does not dodge the penalty. This means imposing a travel ban is the first step against him, but what if the complaint was filed with malicious intent in order to harm the doctor? False claims happen frequently and it is unfair especially if the travel ban leads to blocking the renewal of residency, so the accused will keep on violating the Residency Law for months or even years against his will until the end of the trial on the false claim and he is declared innocent. It is even worse if investigators decide to put him in jail while the investigation is ongoing, so he loses his freedom over a false claim. Even investigation takes the most important hours of a doctor’s day and those are his working hours. This keeps him away from work and he could be fired because he is not working or reporting for work on time.
Abuse of doctors continues. A video clip went viral a couple of months ago, showing a muscled man beating a doctor in a well-known hospital while one of his female relatives was standing behind him. It turned out that the female relative went to see the doctor who asked her to wait in line as she wanted to be the first to see him. She did not accept being treated equally with other patients so she called the muscled relative to beat the doctor badly. What an absurd reason to beat the doctor! This happened because there is no immunity that protects him while he is doing his job.
How will a doctor do his job properly if he is under pressure and afraid of going to jail if the patient does not like the result? It seems there is no safe place for him to practice his profession. A travel ban takes away the promotion opportunity from doctors, because they will not be able to attend international medical conferences which are very important and are linked to their job.
The Parliament must issue new laws immediately in order to fix loopholes in the Medical Profession Law and help doctors practice their profession safely.
By Atyab Alshatti, Esq