It is rumored that Thailand is actually considering legislation that would make it less complicated for both Thais and foreigners to sue for medical malpractice.
The new law appears to offer indigenous and traveling patients compensation for malpractice. It has been prepared under the principle that patients suffering as a result of medical error deserve compensation and treatment without having to wait for any inquiry or the need to bring the case to court.
“Although the main purpose of the draft is to help poor and middle-class Thais, if the law is enacted with such details as the draft now carries, the law could end up benefiting foreign patients, who could file charges against private hospitals which cater to wealthy Thais and foreign clients”, said Dr Vithoon Eungprabhanth, an academic at Thammasat University’s Health Laws and Ethics Centre, (source: Bangkokpost.com, 7/29/10 “Compensation for malpractice: a boon for patients”).
There is, of course, opposition with valid concerns.
“We have opposed the bill not because we don’t want to help patients,” Dr Methee Wongsirisuwan insisted, “We just object to legal clauses in the bill because they will benefit no one”. (source: “Angry doctors say parts of Malpractice Bill benefit nobody”, nationalmultimedia.com, 8/20/10 by By Chularat Saengpassa).
T4H member, Dick Atkins, specializes in assisting companies and individuals on legal issues in foreign countries. He is the author of “Chapter 12: Legal Rights Affecting the Medical Tourist” in the book “How to Plan A Successful Medical Tourism Trip.
Atkins provided the following opinion on the law:
“I have mixed feelings about this [law]. It is interesting that Thai hospitals are among the best in the world for Medical Tourism and complaints are few compared to other places. Lack of a remedy if the procedure goes wrong does not appear to be an important reason for not getting such treatment in Thailand. It is important to see how the fund will be funded. Will the extra costs be tacked onto each procedure and make them too expensive? Probably, the amounts to be disbursed will be modest, reasonable by Thai standards, but not high enough to make much of a difference in the selection of a country for treatment process. But that is an educated guess.”
“Overall, I think that it is a responsible idea and a positive move and that a well worded law and well funded compensation fund should attract more medical tourists to Thailand and give those seeking treatment there peace of mind. Also, the availability of that compensation may lower the costs of the US policies which compensate for errors and their medical costs. So, that is my preliminary view,” said Atkins.
Dick Atkins, owner of Dick Atkins, Esq. is a Philadelphia lawyer and owner of International Recoveries, LLC. Atkins lectures at travel insurance conventions. He is on the Board of Directors for the United States Travel Insurance Association.