The patient's view

Rachagan, S.S. and Sharon, K. (2003) The patient's view. Medical Journal of Malaysia, 58 (Spp.). pp. 86-101. ISSN 0300-5283, DOI 14556356.

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The medical practitioner has always had to juggle several roles. First and foremost, the doctor is a healer, a provider of curative services. Second, he is an examiner, an assessor of the patient's health status. Third, he is a researcher, always trying to push the boundaries of medical knowledge. Fourth, he is a rationer of services, he decides how best to apportion the limited resources at his disposal. Traditionally, the patient-doctor relationship has been largely exclusive in nature and the doctor would quite comfortably slip in and out of these roles, his focus centred on his patient's interests. In this era of large corporate health care providers, multi-billion-biotechnology industry, mammoth pharmaceutical companies, medical insurance schemes and international trade instruments, it has become increasingly difficult for the doctor to juggle these four roles. He is constantly subjected to conflicting demands. Patients' interests do not always come first anymore and patients are beginning to realise this. They no longer trust the medical profession unreservedly. There has been steady erosion of the patient-doctor relationship most clearly evidenced by the rising tide of litigation against doctors. There needs to be a reappraisal of these roles that the doctor plays. The conflicts must be recognised and addressed. Patients need to be informed and their interests must be protected if the doctor-patient relationship is to be restored. Medical malpractice suits are on the increase. The tort system as it exists is failing both doctors and patients. The question we must ask is what are patients looking for when they sue doctors? Most of the time they need compensation for the injuries suffered. Sometimes they are looking for accountability, they want the doctor to be punished in some way. Sometimes they merely want to air their grievances and know that they are heard. The current system more often than not takes too long to compensate, the process is a gamble and doctors who are clearly negligent quietly settle and are rarely censured. We need to revamp the existing system to allow for speedy and equitable compensation; true accountability; and articulation and auditing of standards of practice.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Faculty of Law, University of Malaya
Uncontrolled Keywords: Internationality/legislation & jurisprudence; Malpractice/economics; Malpractice/legislation & jurisprudence
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA1001 Forensic Medicine. Medical jurisprudence. Legal medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Law
Depositing User: Mr. Faizal Hamzah
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2011 04:09
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2019 06:12

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