Medical malpractice proviso raises eyebrows

Posted at 11/09/12 4:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Governor Leo Olarte warned Friday a proposed law aimed at preventing medical malpractice can have adverse effects to the public.

Olarte said House Bill 6538 (Physicians Act of 2012) seeks to punish doctors who will perform medical procedures outside his field of specialty.

Section 27(k) of the bill states that "performing any act constituting the practice of an area of medical specialization without fulfilling the specialization requirements prescribed by the Board" is deemed punishable.
The "Board" refers to the Professional Regulatory Board of Medicine (PRBM), which will be created as mandated by the law. Under the proposed law, the PRBM shall have the power to suspend the practice of profession of a physician or revoke the physician's registration.

Olarte argued that the proposed law will prevent doctors from acting on emergency situations.

"Hindi po tama iyun, kasi ang doktor, ang intensyon ay makabuhay sa isang pasyente, lalo na in emergency conditions. Halimbawa, ang isang doctor ay 'di siya espesyalista sa appendectomy o malakas ang dugo, kalangan i-istop, pero di niya linya. Tapos ginawa niya [ang operasyon at] nabuhay ang pasyente, pwede pa rin siyang ibilanggo," Olarte told dzMM.

"Kaya ang doktor, 'di na lang niya gagawan ng paraan, titignan na lang niya ang pasyente na mamamatay," he added.

If a patient dies in the process, a physician may be imprisoned by not less than one (l) year but not exceeding five (5) years; or be fined with not less than P200,000 but not exceeding P500,000.

Olarte said even Health Secretary Enrique Ona has expressed reservations over the particular provision of the bill, which has already passed the third and final reading in the Lower House.

The bill's Senate counterpart, on the hand, remains pending.

"Si Doctor Ona is hoping po na itong provision sa batas na ito… the practice of a medical procedure outside [one's specialty] should not be criminalized," he said.

Olarte noted that the provision is prejudicial to public health, since many regions in the country suffer from shortage in doctors and other medical professionals.