Medical malpractice or medical negligence is one of the leading causes of deaths around the world. Any action or omission (failure to act) by a medical practitioner that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care is referred to as medical negligence. The Medical Liability Law, which became effective on 16 December 2008, lays out the rules that medical practitioners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must follow. According to the Medical Liability Law, all medical facilities in the UAE must obtain medical malpractice insurance. The Medical Law and its corresponding Regulations give rise to a number of legal issues, including doctor obligations, medical malpractice insurance requirements, medical malpractice investigations, disciplinary procedures, and repercussions for breaking the Medical Law and its Regulations.
MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAWS IN THE UAE
A medical professional is required to take reasonable precautions and sincerely strive to adhere to recognized medical standards under the Medical Liability Federal Law No. 4 of 2016 (the “2016 Law”). In order to prove criminal medical negligence, a “Gross Medical Error” must have occurred, according to Federal Law of 2016. The phrase “Gross Medical Error” has not before been defined in that statute. The UAE published Cabinet Resolution No. 40 later in 2019 to clarify a number of uncertainties in the act and define the phrase “Gross Medical Error.”
According to Article 5 of the Executive Regulations, a gross medical error may involve any of the following:
- A mistake that causes the patient or foetus to die
- The unintended removal of an organ
- Treatment of a patient without their consent
- Not providing medical attention in the case of an emergency
- Prescribing treatments and medications without proper diagnosis
- The doctor being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The loss of an organ function
- Grave carelessness, including giving the patient an overdose or leaving medical supplies within the patient
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SEEKING COMPENSATION
A victim must take three actions in these unfortunate circumstances. Firstly, a complaint can be filed with the relevant Healthcare Authority. After receiving the complaints from the health authority, the Committee of Medical Liability, as referred to in the Medical Liability Law, is required to provide a rationale report for each instance. After initially going to a civil court to request compensation for the loss or damages he experienced, he might subsequently file a criminal complaint against the doctor or clinic. Certain factors shall be taken into account whilst seeking for compensation. The list of factors include but is not limited to:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of income
- Psychological effect and suffering
- Medical costs
- Cost of receiving current and future care
DIYA (BLOOD) MONEY AS COMPENSATION
If the result of the medical negligence is death, the compensation shall be calculated in addition to ‘Diya money’ in the UAE. Diya, in Islamic law, is the financial compensation paid to the victim or the heirs of a victim in the case of death by negligence. In the UAE, the Diya money is presently fixed at Dh200,000. In accordance with Article 34 of the Law, doctors who cause a patient’s death due to malpractice or mistakes in medicine may face a term of up to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to 500,000 dirhams. If drugs or alcohol were used in the course of the gross medical error, the penalty might be increased to a maximum of two years in jail and a maximum fine of Dh1,000,000 instead.
The Law mandates the establishment of a Medical Liability Committee (the Committee) and a Higher Committee for Medical Liability as part of the legal framework for handling claims of medical negligence in the United Arab Emirates. The Committee would review cases that were presented to it by the proper court, public prosecutor, or health authority. The Committee would be made up of medical experts from various specialities. They are in charge of examining these cases, assessing if a medical practitioner was negligent, how careless they were, and how serious they were. Therefore, all cases of medical negligence in the UAE must first be examined by the Committee before any patients can file a lawsuit for losses and/or injuries caused by such carelessness.
STEPS ON FILING A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAWSUIT
The steps for filing a medical malpractice complaint are as follows;
- The appropriate agency within the health authorities of that Emirate should receive a complaint. For instance, if Dubai is the location of the dispute, a complaint should be made to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
- The Committee would receive a referral from the health authority for its evaluation and consideration. The Committee may also choose specialists to investigate the situation and, if required, produce an expert report. After carefully reviewing the facts, the patient file, and the other material available, performing their investigation, and carrying out the necessary technical studies, they should submit a comprehensive report with their evaluation and opinion of the case. The health authority would then get this report.
- The parties to the case will then have thirty (30) days after notification of the report to file an appeal (grievance) to the health authority in order to contest the report produced by the Committee. (Optional)
- The health authority will then refer the case to the Higher Committee if such an appeal or grievance has been made by either side. Following the assessment of the complaints made against the Committee’s report, the Higher Committee will then publish a report. The Higher Committee’s report is regarded as conclusive and cannot be contested. (Optional)
- A claimant may transfer the matter to a court with appropriate jurisdiction based on a positive report from the Committee (assuming a grievance or appeal was not filed) or the report of the Higher Committee by submitting a claim for compensation for damages or harm.
At Yaqoub Almaazmi Advocates and Legal Consultants, we have a team of expert lawyers who can guide and help you throughout this entire process. If you require any further information or clarification, please feel free to reach out to us.