Doctors have opposed an amendment to a bill that empowers a patient or his attendant to file a complaint with a magistrate against medical negligence.
The Injured Persons (Medical Aid) Amendment Act 2012, a revised version of the act passed in 2004, was presented by opposition MNA Nosheen Saeed on private member’s day last week. The act was approved by the National Assembly and forwarded to a standing committee for finalisation.
The proposed amendment is applicable to all public and private health facilities in the capital city and will cover all persons injured in accidents or assaults.
It also includes indoor and outdoor patients seeking medical treatment.
Once a complaint is filed, an inquiry will be conducted against the doctor and his registration might be cancelled if found guilty.
Doctors, however, are unsatisfied with the amendment.
Dr Asfandyar Khan, the president of Young Doctors Association Islamabad, condemned the step and said they would strongly oppose it.
Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) Registrar Dr Ahmad Nadeem Akbar said the council is the only authority that can register people’s complaints against doctors’ negligence and no one else has the authority to replace or substitute it. “How can a magistrate deal with cases concerning medical negligence when he is unaware about the profession?”
According to Akbar, PMDC decides over one hundred such cases every year.
Pakistan Medical Association Islamabad-Rawalpindi President Dr Arshad Rana said that the amendment will “only create panic and confusion”.
Saeed, however, believes the bill is not about putting doctors’ profession at stake but to encourage them to perform their duties professionally. “Doctors opposing it can do whatever they want. The government cannot afford to allow people becoming victims of negligence.”
She said that the amendment is necessary because not a single case of medical negligence was reported in the country during the past eight years, showing how ineffective the law is in its current form.
“Approximately 80% of medical services are delivered without any code of conduct or fear of regulatory regime,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.