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Insurance will not reduce medical errors: Experts
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 03 - 07 - 2017

RIYADH – Medical errors being committed by doctors and nurses at private hospitals are on the rise, according to health insurance experts. They have observed a 10 percent jump in medical mistakes committed by doctors during cosmetic surgery.
"Insurance to cover medical errors will not reduce such errors but may contain them as insurance companies put difficult conditions," said one expert while speaking to Al-Riyadh Arabic daily.
Dr. Fahd Al-Bassi, deputy director of medical management at the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI), said insurance coverage in fact contributed to increasing medical mistakes in the Kingdom.
"The lion's share of such mistakes take place at cosmetic surgery centers due to a lack of advanced facilities and growing number of operations," Al-Bassi said while urging the authorities to keep a strict watch on the performance of doctors and nurses.
"A special committee should be formed to punish doctors and nurses who commit mistakes frequently, endangering people›s health and lives," Al-Bassi said, adding that mistakes take place due to the inexperience of medical practitioners and their lack of expertise.
He blamed the presence of unqualified foreign doctors for the growing number of medical mistakes at private hospitals. "Private hospitals and clinics give priority to profits rather than the quality of service," he pointed out.
Al-Bassi stressed the need to publicize the names of hospitals and clinics that appoint inexperienced and negligent doctors and nurses.
The performance of foreign doctors and nurses must be assessed regularly and before renewing their work contracts, he said.
"Medical licenses of private hospitals and clinics should not be renewed if the number of medical mistakes crosses the acceptable level," he said.
Dr. Fahd Al-Anazi, a health insurance expert, called for changing the present compensation system for medical mistakes. He said moral and psychological damages suffered by the victims and their families must be taken into consideration while calculating the compensation.
"Medical errors often lead to disfigurement. Compensations should not be limited to deaths and loss of organs but should cover the psychological sufferings of victims," he said.
"Insurance on medical mistakes will not put an end to such mistakes but will contribute to reducing them to a great extent as insurance companies impose strict conditions on medical practitioners to cut down mistakes," Al-Anazi told Al-Riyadh.
He said the main objective of the insurance scheme was to ensure good and quick compensation to victims and their families. "It will also encourage the legal committee to take quick action against negligent doctors and nurses without any hesitation," he added.
Al-Anazi said doctors and nurses involved in medical mistakes have to pay higher insurance premiums, which depend on the number of doctors in a hospital covered by the insurance and the company's interest to establish relationship with the hospital or clinic.
"If the insurance coverage is provided to a single doctor the premium will be very high," he pointed out. "Insurance coverage against medical mistakes is good for the patient, doctor and hospital. It will boost doctors› confidence and remove their fears in treating patients," he concluded.

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