Medical malpractice law to be enforced from February 26

Laws relating to medical malpractice are expected to be enforced starting from February 26, following the assessment from the Executive Council (ExCo).

The information was revealed in a press conference yesterday at the government headquarters, where it was announced that the analysis of three administrative regulations have been concluded, meaning the new laws are enforceable.

ExCo spokesperson Leong Heng Teng revealed that the regulations of the “Evaluation Committee of Medical Malpractice” (which will oversee technical evaluation of medical malpractice cases, determine the investigations and necessary examinations as well as assess the complaints presented for both healthcare services users and workers) are not yet public knowledge and will be disclosed “later through an executive order from the Chief Executive.”

Information such as the names of the seven members that will compose the committee – of which five will be from the medical field and two from a legal background – were also not disclosed.

As mentioned last year when the bill was discussed by the Legislative Assembly (AL), the committee was asked to evaluate whether or not it is necessary to pay a fee to request the committee’s intervention. However, the amount was also not disclosed.

In August last year when the bill was being debated by the AL, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam, admitted that reference amounts from neighboring regions were being considered. These amounts ranged between MOP5,500 and MOP8,900.

While a 90-day limit was established for the committee to investigate and disclose a report, doubts were expressed on whether the time frame would be sufficient for some complex cases, in which the regulation may permit an extension for an undefined period of time.

Another administrative regulation now approved by the ExCo referred to the “mandatory compensation insurance for the healthcare providers.”

The government spokesperson highlighted that the regulation sets a minimum ammount of MOP500,000 to MOP2 million for individual professionals, and MOP1 million to MOP20 million for the related institutions and entities.

The regulation also sets the conditions of exclusion under which the insurance company will not be required to pay compensation, such as willful misconduct due to its classification as a criminal act.

It was also clarified that in a case where healthcare professionals have difficulty in securing insurance (specifically, if the insurance companies refuse), the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) will intervene and help healthcare professionals find an suitable policy.

“At the moment there are, I believe, seven insurance companies [operating in the territory] that can provide this kind of insurance,” said Leong.

The last of the administrative regulations to be analyzed was the creation of the “Conflict Mediation Center”, which can provide free assistance for cases regarding medical malpractice.

The intervention of such a center is voluntary and can be stopped at any time by the decision of the parties.

Citing figures from the Health Bureau (SSM), Leong said there were 59 reported cases of potential medical malpractice in 2016.

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