DHA reports 320 complaints in 2012
Dubai, February 12, 2013
The DHA health regulation department received 320 medical complaints in 2012, of which 151 were valid and thus accepted, according a top DHA official.
“Of the 151 cases that we looked into, we revoked the license of six medical professionals, suspended the license of eight medical professionals, sent 32 warning letters and two notice letters,” said Dr Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, head of Clinical Governance Office, DHA Health Regulation Department.
She said that suspension of license is temporary as per UAE law and the time of suspension of license depends on the severity of the medical error, however, revocation is permanent and once a license is revoked, the department informs all the concerned authorities in the UAE and GCC.
“Disciplinary action is taken in line with the magnitude of the error committed and such measures are essential to safeguard patients’ rights and to ensure a high level of quality healthcare in Dubai,” Dr Marzouqi said.
“Of the 151 cases received, 110 cases were sent for investigation, 24 for a peer review and three for a hospital resolution, six cases were closed and eight are awaiting action.”
“Not all cases are sent for investigation. For example, hospital resolution is where the issue is minor and therefore the hospital is asked to directly speak to the patient and sort the matter out within ten days. The hospital has to write to the DHA and confirm that the issue is resolved and the patient is satisfied.”
Of the 110 cases investigated, 47 cases of investigation are completed. Of these, 15 cases showed malpractice and 32 cases showed no malpractice.
Dr Marzouqi said of the cases received, medical complaints were lodged by patients and their relatives for several issues ranging from alleged malpractice and/or negligence to issues such as poor communication, prolonged waiting time, and delay in treatment.
She added that the cases received are classified as minor, moderate and major and action is taken accordingly.
For minor cases, facilities will be involved and the DHA Health Regulation Department will give facilities 10 days time to resolve the issue before further action is taken. Facilities will have to coordinate with the health regulation office and inform them about the steps they intend to take to resolve the issue, which will ensure quick and effective decision-making.
In terms of moderate cases, a peer review will be undertaken consisting of specialists who will provide their decision based on thorough investigation. For major cases, a committee will be formed to investigate the manner.
For all cases, the DHA Health Regulation department requires that the facility, against which the complaint is filed, should provide a contact person. This is to ensure that the investigation committee or the peer review group gets immediate access to files and medical staff for investigating the case.
Based on the findings and the severity of the case the DHA takes action such as issuing a warning notice to revoking the license of the medical practitioner, Dr Marzouqi said.
“The committees and peer group reviews are unbiased groups and this process is crucial for transparency and fair judgement.”
“If the case is filed against a government hospital, then the investigating committee mainly consists of medical fraternity from the private sector and the DHA even ropes in specialists from the HAAD, DHCC and MOH if required.”
Committees and peer groups thoroughly examine the medical file as well as look into other aspects of the case such as testimonials from doctors and staff and other such details before presenting their decision.
The DHA Health Regulation Office also has an appeals process in place.
“Once the decision is given, the complainant has 15 days to file an appeal. The appeal is studied by a higher authority and then the decision is given to either accept or reject the appeal, depending on the merits of the case. If the appeal is accepted, another committee is formed to reinvestigate the case,” said Dr Marzoqui.
She also highlighted that the DHA has a follow-up mechanism to ensure that such errors can be minimised and that the committee also gives recommendations for the same.
Every patient and doctor has a right to complain if they are unsatisfied with the level of service provided and/or if they wish to file a complaint against the hospital or the medical practitioner, she concluded. – TradeArabia News Service