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Insurance suggested to ease medical disputes

Zhou Wenting
Updated: Mar 22,2019 2:34 PM     China Daily

National legislators have said the government should establish an insurance system to mitigate risks to doctors and hospitals and reduce tensions in doctor-patient relationships.

Under the concept, an authority would be established to be responsible for identifying who-the doctor or the hospital-may be responsible for an injury to a patient, and the insurance company will then pay compensation, Zhang Zhaoan, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, said during the annual session of NPC, the top legislative body, which concluded last week.

Many medical accidents, including those involving anesthesia, surgery and blood transfusions, are unpredictable, said Zhang, who is also vice-president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Adverse consequences are often caused by limitations of medical science or the patient’s physical condition, and the medical team is not at fault, he said. However, the patient and family usually blame the doctor and hospital for such accidents, which greatly affects the hospital’s work and the medical staff’s enthusiasm, he said.

“Compulsory medical liability insurance is mature in some developed countries as an approach to reduce disputes following medical treatment,” Zhang said. “It’s like farmers buying insurance for the cattle and sheep they breed; and flight passengers will often purchase aviation accident insurance.”

Liu Yan, another NPC deputy and vice-president of Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, said, “The incidence of medical accidents in the United States is nearly 10 percent. However, thanks to its comprehensive medical liability insurance system, most doctor-patient disputes can be effectively resolved,” she said.

A report released in 2017 by market consultancy iResearch and Medlinker, a Chinese social networking and referral app for doctors, said that more than 60 percent of doctors believed the doctor-patient relationship is their main source of stress. Around 100,000 medical disputes arise in the country every year.

“The best way to prevent medical disputes is to position risk response ahead of time, and insurance is an ideal way,” Zhang said.

Liu suggested that such an insurance system begin by covering surgeries. She suggested the hospital and the patient jointly buy the insurance. If an accident occurs during or after surgery, the insurance company would pay compensation to the patient based on the determination of responsibility.

“It can somewhat alleviate the economic burden of the patient’s family after a medical accident,” she said.

Zhang, the legislator, said the government also needs to provide financial support for such insurance, since healthcare is a part of public welfare.