Medical Malpractice in Thailand

Many patients in Thailand are satisfied with their medical care, and hospitals follow established protocols and guidelines. However, some patients experience medical harm.

Societies want medical professionals to be motivated by best practices, but they also don’t want malpractice insurance rates or defensive medical practices to stifle patient care. Understanding the legal framework and available options is key to navigating the medical malpractice process in Thailand.

Legal Framework

As medical tourism continues to boom in Thailand, more patients are pursuing claims against doctors and hospitals for botched surgeries, deaths and injuries. With this in mind, understanding the legal framework surrounding medical malpractice can help patients and their families pursue compensation and justice.

Claims in Thailand are pursued under the general principle of liability for a “wrongful act”. In order to demonstrate negligence, the injured party must prove that the healthcare provider breached their duty of care and that this breach caused them harm. Compensation for medical malpractice in Thailand is typically awarded based on quantifiable financial losses, while damages for pain and suffering are often less substantial compared to Western jurisdictions.

Professional regulation plays an important role in ensuring that healthcare professionals follow established standards of practice. The Medical Council of Thailand maintains statistics regarding doctor misconduct and can take disciplinary action in cases where necessary.

Statute of Limitations

Medical Malpractice in Thailand is the legal field that governs any instances where healthcare professionals or institutions fail to uphold their duty of care and this failure results in injury or harm to the patient. Claims for compensation in such cases can be brought before the courts and are usually subject to a prescriptive time limit of one year or, where the claims fall within the sphere of criminal law, a longer period under the relevant statute.

Damages resulting from malpractice claims are usually calculated as quantifiable losses and may include costs associated with treatment, lost income, and intangible damages such as pain and suffering or disfigurement. However, critics point out that malpractice lawsuits can deter future doctors from pursuing the profession and lead to understaffed healthcare systems due to competent doctors fearing malpractice suits.

Insurance Coverage

In Thailand, medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a healthcare professional that falls below accepted standards of care and causes injury to a patient. This includes unskilled or inadequate treatment, wrongful diagnosis, and failure to warn of known health risks. Claims can be brought in civil or criminal courts.

The Medical Council of Thailand is responsible for overseeing the conduct of healthcare professionals and investigating complaints. Generally, compensation for medical negligence is awarded based on verifiable expenses and financial losses, with intangible losses like pain and suffering less common.

Societies want healthcare professionals to be motivated to engage in best practices and occasionally take calculated, informed risks with patients’ welfare as the foremost concern. However, they also do not want high malpractice insurance rates and defensive medical practices to stifle patient care. Educating yourself on medical malpractice laws can help you to navigate these often turbulent waters. A qualified lawyer can provide support and guidance.

Expert Witnesses

To be successful in a medical malpractice claim, victims must prove that their doctor breached the accepted and established standards of professional medical practice in Thailand. This is difficult without expert testimony. Experts can testify about what tests a competent doctor would have run in the same circumstances and how those tests could have helped a patient make an informed decision regarding their treatment options.

Expert witnesses must also show that they are substantially familiar with the standard of care in a particular medical subspecialty. This is accomplished by filing a certificate of merit affidavit. This affidavit must state that the expert witness spent at least 50% of his or her professional time in a medical subspecialty during the two years preceding the incident giving rise to the action.

Generally, experts who are active in their fields are preferred as they will be more up-to-date on the current standard of care. However, juries and judges tend to find experts who make a career of testifying in court less credible.

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