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Medical body seeks malpractice protections

The Medical Council of Cambodia and the Ministry of Health are working on a draft law that would force malpractice complaints to go through the council before they make it to a courtroom, an MCC official said yesterday.

Keo Pech Sovann, head of the MCC’s Banteay Meanchey division, who on Tuesday attended the annual convention of the council – the medical equivalent of a bar association – said that attendees discussed the need for legislation to protect doctors against frivolous complaints.

“The courts don’t have sufficient medical knowledge,” Sovann said. Under the draft, patients who want to bring a complaint against a doctor would have to go to the MCC, who would check the doctor’s credentials.

If the “doctor” turns out to be unlicensed, the MCC would withdraw from the case.

If the doctor is licensed, the MCC would decide whether the case is serious enough to send to the court. If not, the MCC would work with the doctor and the patient to find a solution.

However, Cambodian-American doctor and businessman Quach Mengly yesterday criticised the proposal, saying that it is patients who need more protection, not doctors.

“Citizens should have the right to sue independently, and the courts should determine malpractice based on the evidence. If a judge finds illegal conduct or malpractice, then the medical council should take action.”

According to a report by the World Health Organization, patient rights are not legally recognised by Cambodian law, and there are no official complaint procedures against medical professionals.

The Ministry of Health could not be reached yesterday.

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