Examples of horrific malpractice continue to pile up in our public hospitals. Other than suspicion of human error, this shows that the malpractice report procedures of the Hospital Authority (HA) are showing grave weaknesses. This has adversely impacted the rights of patients and their families and the trust of the people in our public hospital system and the quality of care it provides. The worst thing about medical malpractice now is that not only does it directly harm patients and their families, the number of cases have risen to such alarming levels that it is almost no longer news, leading to a sense of futility and the loss of ways to set things right.
Therefore, while we fight for redress for patients thus wronged, we must calmly analyze these cases of malpractices in order to find proper solutions and stop such cases from happening again. After research, we find that there are three main causes of medical malpractice:
Not enough medical staff on hand
The population and the need for medical services both continue to rise. There are not enough medical staff or nurses on hand for these needs, leading to frontline medical staff being highly stressed and making it easy to commit errors. According to the government’s own figures, Hong Kong will suffer a shortfall of 1,000 doctors and nurses up to 2020, which is very concerning to everyone here
Not enough supervision on the quality of medical services
As these cases of malpractice continue to pile up, the core issue is no longer individual medical staff having problems, it is the fact that the supervision of the HA over the quality of care is slack. In order to stop cases of malpractice before they start, supervisory mechanisms must be strengthened and made vigilant again in order to preserve the standard of care provided by staff
The reporting mechanism for malpractice cases is almost useless
The rules of the HA itself state that hospitals and clinics must report cases of severe medical malpractice or dangerous incidents within 24 hours and to reduce the danger and harm towards patients. However, as shown in the recent case in the United Christian Hospital, this mechanism was not followed and turned out to be useless. The patient and the family were harmed a second time, and in the face of such “mechanism malpractice”, the rights of the patient and the family were tossed away like so much garbage.
The DAB Expects and DEMANDS that:
•The government hire more medical staff in order to alleviate the burden on frontline medical workers.
•The government and the HA must be vigilant in supervising hospitals and strict in upholding the standards of care.
•We demand that the independent review panel must thoroughly investigate the entire reporting mechanism and submit its report to the HA Board in eight weeks’ time. The problems in the mechanism MUST be fixed as soon as possible, in order to protect the rights of patients.