RE: “Medical liability insurance law for January, says Health minister” (The New Times, November 25).
“The law was passed but we had to be vigilant, the law has two parts and the part of patient rights has been implemented, patients know their rights to treatment, to information on their health status and the right to choose the doctor to treat them, the rest of the law will be implemented in the near future.”
In my own perspective, I commend efforts made by the Ministry of Health to address this issue but the awareness on patient rights needs to be taken to another level. Reports on medical malpractice have been reported and something needs to be done before we make use of penalties prescribed under article 159 160 of the current penal code.
Besides, it is still difficult for the victim (patient) to figure out the right party to sue in medical negligence cases because doctors and pharmacists have complementary roles. Whereas a doctor treats and prescribes drugs to a patient basing on the symptoms of the disease, a pharmacist provides clear information and advice about the rational use of the drug to avoid drug abuse that may lead to adverse effects of medications.
It is not clear who can be held liable if a doctor prescribes a wrong drug and dosage and the pharmacist gives out the drug to the patient when he/she is more trained in that area than the doctor himself. To my opinion, both parties could be jointly and severally liable. Does this law and its implementing ministerial orders have a different opinion?