Thursday, November 30, 2006

Honest mistake means not accountable?

A piece of news today... i wonder if this is part of the penal review?

Here is the bit i am skeptical about...

Starting next year, an initiative by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong could change the complexion of medical negligence cases. All parties can meet before a case begins; patients or their relatives can find out exactly what happened; and, if necessary, doctors can say sorry.

More importantly, everyone can speak freely, because the information exchanged cannot be used in court.

1st thing that cross my recruit brain is... WTF? Imagine i am a doctor suspected of negligence or misconduct.. If i tell you something that you deserve to know, you then cannot use those information if you later decide to pursue an action against my negligence? I mean if a doctor wants to say sorry sincerely then just say it. Why should there be conditions tied in? Of coz if the doctor does not believe there is any negligence, why force the doctor to say sorry? A negligent doctor sooner or later must face the truth and consequences. Why should a doctor be somehow protected? Now it appears that in a case where there is genuine negligence, and the doctor knows it, but by using 'sorry' and 'honest mistake' you can't hold him/her accountable anymore. Can lidat one meh??

This leads me to think about this. According to the news...

In fact, experts said that if the move takes off, there could be less need to go to court at all. The air of mistrust can be cleared, and if an honest mistake has been made, the matter can be settled without relying on expensive litigation.

So expensive legal fees and proceedings is the reason behind this. But straight away there is a loophole. If i make the already expensive litigation even more expensive, wouldn't this push people (especially the poor) towards this new policy? Haha you see anot? Who will actually benefit and be protected??

The question is in the first place why is litigation so expensive?? This means justice lies with those who can afford it instead of those who really needs it. Why not address this to make litigation affordable for all?

If this is part of the law review or whatever review they are doing now, it seems to me once again it is designed to favour the rich and elites.


The Human Battery said...

It's not mainly about reducing "expensive litigation". Much more importantly, the reasoning is: litigation -> doctors treat patients defensively (order more X-rays, scans etc), and higher malpratice insurance paid by doctors -> higher medical cost.

This is a valid reasoning but it totally ignores the advantages of malpractice litigation:
1. It punishes errant doctors so that others will be more careful so that less patients die,

2. The money won can help support a poor family whose only breadwinner has died due to negligence by his doctors.

3. The money won helps take care of people who became paralysed due to such negligence.

4. Defensive medicine is good to a certain extent. Currently, necessary X-rays, blood test etc are often not ordered by some doctors, who are over confident, careless, negligent, can't be bothered etc.

So we do need a balance between the disadvantages and the advantages. BUT, in Singapore, nothing is balanced! Everything is extreme. And that's the problem with our health care system, and our education system and in fact, with every broken system in the country.

Your blog is good. I have linked it up to mine.

Recruit Ong said...

correct lor, if u look at the points listed out under advantages of malpractice litigation, u see dat there is no advantage and benefits to doctors and their bosses right? Who wouldnt be happy to be protected and have job security?

Also in a case that involves hospital or a medical group, at most the doctor who is an employee kena sack nia, it is his boss or the company who has to fork out $$$ and pay big damages.

i can actually put it another way and say the the threat of malpractice litigation serves as a form of check and balance on doctors. Keep them on their toes so dat they dun slack.