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A cure for medical negligence

Published:Thursday | October 11, 2012 | 10:00 AM
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Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

FSI partners with Canadian firm to cut culture of silence in Jamaica

THE INCREASING number of medical negligence complaints has resulted in the Jamaican company Future Services International (FSI) partnering with a Canadian health risk management company to assist victims of medical malpractice.

The partnership will help the victims obtain independent medical opinions and reports.

Yaneek Page, managing director of FSI, said the Canadian company has been regarded as a leading authority in medical record and health information analysis in Canada for more than 10 years. She described the company as one which has capabilities ranging from locating a single expert for a medical malpractice lawsuit to developing teams of experts for class action suits.

The Canadian company also specialises in conducting research in health-care litigation and training in health-care risk management, Page said.

"Currently, medical negligence cases in Jamaica are difficult to pursue because claimants are often unable to find some local doctors who are willing to provide medical opinions implicating their colleagues," she said.

Page told The Gleaner on Tuesday that "sometimes a doctor will tell you that the standard of care was breached and the doctor who treated you was negligent, but many doctors are not prepared to put that in writing". She referred to a closeness in the medical society and the fear by some doctors of being ostracised.

She said people who suffer serious negligence breaches were demanding justice. The way to balance justice, Page said, was to look to other countries for doctors who were not connected. The managing director said there were cases in Jamaica where the courts had accepted outside medical opinions.

Complaints about silence

Page disclosed that a number of lawyers had complained in the past about the culture of silence by some doctors in the medical society.

She said she was not just urging doctors to ensure that the necessary tests were done, but was imploring all health professionals, including nurses and laboratory technicians, to exercise due care and ensure that tests are accurate.

Page explained that the partnership will see medical experts in Canada conducting independent medical reviews of patients' cases to include the review of medical files and providing written medical reports, which could be tendered in court as evidence. She is optimistic that the partnership will encourage a culture of patient safety and empowerment that will improve health-care outcomes for the wider society.

"While we believe that Jamaica has many brilliant and hard-working doctors, most of whom would never intentionally hurt their patients, we note that the existing culture of silence by some doctors in medical negligence cases perpetrates an injustice against victims," she added.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com