Medical Malpractice in Thailand

Medical Malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a healthcare professional that falls below accepted standards of practice and causes injury to the patient. This includes unskilled, inadequate or neglectful treatment as well as wrongful diagnosis and failure to warn patients of known health risks.

Societies want medical professionals to be motivated to engage in best practices, but they also do not want malpractice insurance rates and defensive medicine to stifle patient care. One solution could be a no-fault compensation system for victims of malpractice.

Patient Rights

Medical malpractice claims can raise significant ethical, legal, and patient safety concerns. However, Thailand has a robust legal framework that provides avenues for patients to seek compensation when they are injured by the negligence or substandard care of healthcare professionals.

A medical malpractice claim typically requires strong evidence that the healthcare professional violated their duty of care by failing to deliver treatment that aligns with accepted standards of practice. This often requires expert witness testimony from qualified medical practitioners to establish the standard of care, whether it was breached, and the resulting harm.

Patients have the right to receive honest information about their medical condition, examination, and proposed treatment, including its risks and alternative options. They also have the right to give informed consent before proceeding with a procedure. When it comes to compensating victims of medical malpractice, Thai courts tend to award damages based on quantifiable losses, such as current and future lost income, and medical and rehabilitation costs. Damages for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, are less frequently awarded.

Medical Malpractice Act

Despite Thailand’s reputation for healthcare tourism, the country is not immune to medical malpractice. In fact, there are numerous reported cases of misdiagnosis and surgical errors, as well as failure to inform patients of risks associated with certain procedures and treatment options.

Physicians in Thailand are obligated to provide clear and comprehensive information to patients in order to obtain informed consent. This includes explaining the benefits and risks of a proposed procedure and its alternatives. In addition, patients are able to address any concerns or issues informally with their doctor. In some instances, this open communication may lead to clarification of the issue, an apology, or corrective actions.

Compensation for medical malpractice in Thailand is generally awarded based on verifiable loss. For this reason, it is uncommon for courts to award damages for intangible losses such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional shock and other purely psychological harm. This makes obtaining compensation in a Thailand medical negligence case more difficult than in western countries.

Medical Council of Thailand

Although Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism, it is not immune to instances of medical negligence. This is why patients should be aware of the legal framework and their rights.

Malpractice claims are filed with the medical council, a government oversight body. This agency keeps statistics regarding doctor misconduct and provides a process for patients to file complaints. It is the first step before a patient can pursue civil or criminal proceedings.

When a case of medical malpractice is filed, it must be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that a healthcare professional acted in a negligent manner and caused injury to a patient. This must include a clear showing that the injury was directly related to the treatment and not just a coincidental occurrence. Damages are also typically limited to actual, quantifiable losses such as expenses and loss of income, both present and future. It is rare for a court to award compensation for pain and suffering or emotional shock.

Legal Representation

Aside from the Medical Council, which is a regulatory body and may not award compensation, medical malpractice claims in Thailand are best addressed through the legal system. A legal malpractice lawyer can help navigate the Thai healthcare system and ensure that patients receive the justice they deserve.

Despite the slick marketing by Thailand hospitals and medical tour companies, many medical tourists are not satisfied with their treatment. The reality is that, although there are several avenues for seeking redress in Thailand, these procedures are often time-consuming, impractical and grueling.

Additionally, damages awarded for intangible losses (such as pain and suffering) tend to be lower than those in some Western countries. A skilled lawyer can assist with navigating the intricacies of the law, collecting evidence and locating expert testimony. If negotiations fail to yield a satisfactory resolution, it is sometimes necessary to file a lawsuit in order to obtain compensation. This involves undergoing lengthy court proceedings, discovery and the potential for a trial.

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