Quality of health care is one of the major concerns of any nation in the world. Citizens need to be healthy for them to effectively contribute to national development. Quality health care ensures that time spent on health facilities is minimized since people do not have to keep on going back to health facilities. On the same note, high quality health care reduces cost of health given the fact that medical mistakes will be minimal. Quality health care is also responsible for safety of patients. However, medical malpractices have been a great obstacle to the achievement of quality health care. Not all health professionals follow the guidelines laid down. As a result, many cases of negligence are reported every year. In Saudi Arabia the case is no different and medical malpractices are rampant.
Medical malpractice is a term used to refer to situations where a patient receives services that are below the required standards of health. In many instances, medical malpractices involve cases of medical errors which may lead to adverse consequences on the patient.
It should be noted that patients are usually harmed and others lose their lives due to medical malpractices. Arguably, medical malpractices have been on the increase recently given the revolution that is taking place in the health sector all over the world and the increasing number of medical practitioners. Health professionals can be sued when they provide services that do not meet the requirements of the profession (Imhof 3). Nevertheless, there is an insurance that covers the risks and costs of medical malpractice law suits for health professionals.
Importance of Quality Health Care
It is important to note that quality health care translates to minimal medical malpractices. Quality health care has several advantages both to the patient and the nation at large. With improved health care, the chances of patients recovering whenever they visit a medical facility are increased. In addition, medical accidents which have led to the loss of lives in some health facilities have been avoided, making health care safe for everybody. Besides increasing the confidence of people in health care facilities, a safe health care system ensures that people take minimal time to recover hence reducing the effects suffered by other economic sectors. It is important to note that quality health care leads to reduction of the amount of money spent in hospitals and thus reduced cost of health care (Imhof 8).
Moreover, quality health care means that drugs with dire side effects are not allowed in the market, let alone in any health facility. Consequently, patients will not have to visit doctors time and again to be treated for the side effects caused by use of generic substandard drugs.
On the same note, citizens will always have high standards of health and will therefore be more productive. It is also important to note that when quality health care is insisted upon by all stakeholders, research into the field of health will be enhanced. Advanced technology as well as state-of-the-art equipment which enable quick and accurate diagnosis, will result from the research (Imhof 8). On the same note, the government will also increase its budgetary allocation to the health sector, leading to provision of exemplary services in both private and public health institutions.
Health Care in Saudi Arabia
The health care system of Saudi Arabia is under the ministry of health that coordinates and supervises all activities of the health sector. Most of the places are covered by public hospitals which are relatively cheaper compared to private hospitals. However, it is important to note that the public hospital cannot cater for everybody and therefore private hospitals are necessary. There are doctors who have resorted to private practice. These health professionals do so mostly in urban areas especially in cities. The ministry of health outlines the guidelines and registers all health professionals after ensuring that applicants meet the minimal requirements set out.
The government has been increasing the budget allocation for the health sector to increase the number of public hospitals. The government is also increasing its health funding so that available hospitals would be well equipped (Imhof 10). Despite all these efforts, people are complaining that they get very poor services especially from public hospitals. For some types of ailments patients have to wait for up to three months before getting an appointment. Moreover, people from various parts of the country still cannot access health care because hospitals are far (Magrattan 294).
Moreover, there have been numerous cases of professionals who have been reported to violate various health requirements. The government has banned several health professional in recent years for being involved in one violation of the medical regulations or the other. With the wave of technological improvement that is being witnessed all over the world, many fake things have come up (Jawhar par 3). As a result, there have been cases of health professionals who have been registered with fake degrees. It goes without saying that somebody who has a fake degree is unqualified to practice. Consequently, any service offered by this person is tantamount to medical malpractice.
It has been said by many citizens that it is safer to have a patient in private hospitals. Public hospitals are becoming very dangerous. Medical errors occur every day and not much is done to bring the situation under control. Actions of the government to protect its people are very inadequate (Imhof 11). Instead of revoking a license of any medical practitioner who is proved to be negligent in his or her work, only fines are imposed. This has lead to increase in medical malpractices.
It is important to note that the high number of reported medical malpractice cases should be taken seriously. This is because an equal number or even more are not reported due to various reasons, religion being one of them. Doctors should be grateful to religion as it makes people believe that death is inevitable thus allowing them to go scot free in some instances (Jawhar par 4). However, the fact of the matter is that going to hospital is as dangerous as driving on the road in Saudi Arabia. The crux of the matter is that while medical practitioners have the ministry of health that favors them in case of any litigation; patients have nobody to protect them.
Litigation is the act of seeking legal redress over cases of medical malpractice. There has been increased awareness among people on the rights of a patient in any health situation. Moreover, with increased literacy levels, people have known the channels to follow in order to seek for justice in case of any violation of their rights. The process of litigation in Saudi Arabia begins the moment a patient or family of a patient institutes a complaint against one or more medical professionals. It is important to note that the complaint must involve a medical action or decision that led to harm or death of a patient (Imhof 13). The claims are handled by the ministry of health or the city government depending on the health facility sued.
After determining which institution will handle the claim, investigations are initiated to ascertain the truth of the claim and the liability of the professional involved. The possible liabilities can be divided into three categories. The first category is the civil liability which arises whenever a medical professional is negligent of medical rules when attending to a patient. In the process, these actions will have caused harm to a patient.
The second category is the punitive liability where actions of medical professionals are in violation of medical regulations but nobody is harmed. The last category is disciplinary liability which arises whenever a health professional fails to meet ethical as well as professional standards and requirements. The actions that can be taken include; warning, fines and banning from medical practice (Imhof 13).
Litigation is advantageous because it aims to find the people who are supposed be blamed for any negligent act that leads to harm or loss of life. Somebody has to be responsible for any activity that takes place in the society. This is what litigation seeks to unravel. On the same note, litigation ensures that health professionals are made responsible for their decisions. This ensures that all health professionals make informed decisions thus increasing safety of patients. Moreover, people fear legal actions because they can lead to very adverse effects. Consequently, people will do all it takes to avoid legal actions against them. In this regard, litigations make medical professionals to become very careful in their actions. This reduces cases of medical errors that lead to loss of lives (Magrattan 295).
The number of medical malpractice cases being reported has been increasing in recent years. Though this may mean that a lot of malpractices are being committed in recent years, this may not be the sole reason. Technological advancement has brought with it new ways of treating various ailments (Jawhar par 5). This new ways are not so common meaning doctors have to try them at a given point and errors are bound to occur. On the same note, globalization has enhanced people’s knowhow on many issues. Health is one of the areas which have had increase in public awareness. It is important to note that with increased development more and more people will become aware thus more litigation will be sort. Consequently, Saudi Arabia should be prepared for more cases of medical malpractices.
Moreover, people are arguing that the punishment that medical professionals receive for malpractices is not commensurate to the crimes committed. The very basic definition of medical malpractice will point out that it is an act against humanity. As a matter of fact, it is against the core human right which is the right to life. Unfortunately, medical practitioners can easily toy with this basic human right and the only punishment they receive is paying a small amount of fines, sometimes only thousands. People argue that all this is because medical malpractice litigations are handled by the ministry of health.
The ministry of health is the one responsible with registration of medical professionals in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, it is one tasked to deal with a person who will be found practicing with fake documents. Naturally, the ministry would favor the professional to save its face. Many people are unsatisfied with the ruling of the litigation panels and are now advocating for the cases to be heard by an outside court. Doctors need to face criminal charges for their violations of human rights. With these views, the current system of handling medical malpractice hangs on a balance.
Similarly, investigation into medical malpractices is currently done by practicing medical doctors and other health officials. Much as their expertise might be crucial in unraveling the nature of medical malpractices, their involvement compromises the whole process. It is impossible for a person to condemn his or her colleague knowing that next time he or she may need a favor from the same person (Jawhar par 6). Therefore, a way should be found that a board made up of independent people will be making decisions regarding medical malpractices with advisory opinion from doctors.
Medical malpractices are increasingly becoming a leading cause of death not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in the world over. People in Saudi Arabia are becoming disdainful of the public health facilities due to high chances of medical errors while undergoing treatment. Though a litigation process to make medical practitioners responsible for any form of negligence is in place, citizens are not satisfied with it because it favors doctors. More serious actions need to be taken for those who blatantly neglect the medical regulations. Furthermore, actions need to be taken to restore confidence in public sector health facilities. It is worth noting that this can be achieved through advanced quality of services.
Imhof, Michael. Malpractice in Surgery: Safety Culture and Quality Management in the Hospital. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012. Print.
Jawhar, Sabria. “Medical Commission Needs Independence.” Arab News. 2013. Web.
Magrattan, Brooks. Erisa Survey of the Federal Circuits, 2010. Chicago: American Bar Association, 2010. Print.