THE FACULTY of Medicine and Surgery is opposing House Bill (HB) No. 4955 or the proposed Medical Malpractice Law due to its alleged inequitable and oppressive nature.

According to Medicine Assistant Dean Dr. Patria Punzalan, the bill is unfair because medical practitioners might be made criminally liable for any untoward incident that might happen to a patient.

“(HB 4955) says that whatever happens to the patient the doctor should be penalized, and that is not fair the doctors,” Punzal said. “It is too harsh. The proponents of the bill do not understand what it is to be a doctor.”

She added that the bill only seeks to increase the penalty for “what it claims as negligence of the doctors.”

HB 4955, which was introduced by Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga, provides that any medical practitioner who commits a medical malpractice or an illegal surgery shall be punished by either prision mayor or a fine of P1 million or both. The medical practitioner’s license will also be revoked.

Medical practitioner refers to any physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, and paramedical or supporting personnel, including medical and dental technician, nursing assistant, and therapist.

Punzalan said there is no need for the bill because there is already the Medical Act of 1959, which gives patients the same right to sue a negligent doctor. It also provides a punishment of imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than five years.

Punzalan said the bill, if enacted, would force doctors to practice “defensive medicine.”

Moreover, Punzalan said the proposed law would be a financial burden on patients.

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“If you have a simple headache, instead of just one test, we would have to make you undergo through a lot of tests so that we would not make a miss,” Punzalan said. “(But), who is going to pay for all those tests? The patient. The payment for health care (will) definitely go up.”

The Faculty’s teachers and students are taking a similar stance.

Dr. Hermogenes Regala, a pediatric surgeon, said the bill is against both the doctors and the patients because only insurance companies and lawyers will benefit from it. He explained that patients have the right to choose their doctors and ask for a second opinion. With the bill, he said the doctor is treated like a criminal as if it was his intention to harm the patient.

“In every operation, minor or major, there is always a very small chance that the wound would fester. Everybody is different, and reaction to chemicals is different from person to person. But, it is never the intention of a doctor to harm a patient,” Regala said.

Regala suggested that Congress should set stricter guidelines in establishing Medicine schools to improve medical service.

“If the government would like to improve the medical service, higpitan ang mga regulations in establishing Medicine schools para hindi na makapag-produce ng substandard doctors (because) substandard schools (produce) substandard doctors,” he said.

“Wala naman sigurong doktor na gustong mamatayan ng pasyente. Bakit naman niya sasadyain ‘yun? Kapag doktor ka, pride mo kapag hindi ka namamatayan ng pasyente,” second-year Medicine student Hayden Kho said. “Nobody ever claimed that the doctors were gods. They only try to improve health and extend life to its fullest.”

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Meanwhile, the Faculty held a seminar to promote awareness of the proposed law among the faculty members last Sept. 11 at the CME Auditorium.

The guest speaker, Thomasian lawyer-physician Ma. Elena Enriquez, discussed the grounds for malpractice and the defense approaches of doctors in dealing with possible suits.

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