What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice in Thailand
The medical tourism boom in Thailand has the advantage of seeking medical treatment with the benefits of: low costs, high-quality treatment, and well-trained physicians. Thailand offer an inexpensive solution to rising healthcare problems. However, even state-of-the-art facilities and top doctors cannot guarantee that no medical malpractice occurs.
This is true not only in Thailand but for the rest of the world as well. In this article, we briefly examine the medical malpractice laws in Thailand and what you need to consider when initiating a malpractice lawsuit. The article is not intended to provide you with legal advice, and it would definitely benefit you to seek out the services of a Thai lawyer so accurate legal counsel can be provided.
Medical Malpractice Laws
First of all, medical malpractice claims can be filed in Thai courts. Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a medical practitioner which causes injury or death to a patient; failure of the medical practitioner to diligently perform his or her duties; and providing unskilled, inadequate, and neglectful treatment to a patient. It also includes failure of the medical practitioner to diagnose, to give the necessary treatment, and to warn the patient of possible and known health risks.
Note that there are no specific laws that deal with medical malpractice in Thailand. Instead, Title V, Chapter 1 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand governs medical malpractice which is treated as a wrongful act.
Finally, it is important to establish that a medical practitioner committed medical negligence or acted unlawfully, failing to meet standards of medical practice and that injury or death was the result of his actions. This will serve as crucial evidence for your malpractice lawyer to support your medical claims. One of the most important pieces of a malpractice lawsuit will be a testimony supporting your case that comes from a medical expert witness.
Difficulties for Foreigners Filing a Malpractice Claim
Being a physician in Thailand means being one of the most revered members of society. Malpractice suits were almost non-existent in earlier times. Laws have since then been enacted that allowed patients to address malpractice and negligence in the medical field; however, a number of these regulations have caused healthcare professionals some grief.
In November 14, 2012, more than 23,000 doctors and nurses headed by the chairman of the Medical Council of Thailand, filed a petition that sought to protect them from possible malpractice claims. This gives us a hint on how medical malpractice cases are viewed in the country. Although Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code does allow for medical service users legal compensation, foreign patients often have a difficult time filing for medical malpractice for a number of reasons:
• They may be required to remain in Thailand until the trial is completed. Aside from legal costs, the additional travel and living expenses may be considerable.
• It becomes very difficult to prove a case because patients filing for malpractice cannot usually get access to medical records.
• For foreigners, they may not be used to dealing with a very different court system. In Thailand, judges are used, instead of juries. Plus all evidence, whether written or oral, have to be translated into the native language of Thai. Often, foreigners will not know what is going on in court proceedings.
Given the above, it is recommended that one should hire a qualified lawyer or a law firm to assist you when pursuing a medical malpractice claim in Thailand.