While we have been blogging about medical malpractice issues in the United States daily for almost one year, we thought we would broaden our horizons to see how other countries may address medical malpractice claims. We started to investigate medical malpractice cases in other Western countries and other democracies when we came upon a recent article in Arab News regarding medical malpractice claims in Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, Shariah (the moral code and the religious laws of Islam) medical committees at the Ministry of Health are responsible to resolve medical malpractice claims. There are a total of 18 Shariah medical committees in Saudi Arabia, each of which is headed by a Shariah judge. In 2010, the Shariah medical committees received 1,758 medical malpractice cases and held 2,302 sessions regarding medical malpractice claims. The medical committees issued 266 decisions in medical malpractice cases in which 53.4% found against doctors and other medical personnel and 46.4% found in favor of the doctors and other medical personnel.
The regions with the largest number of medical malpractice claims were Makkah region (500 medical malpractice cases) followed by Riyadh (430 medical malpractice cases). The region with the smallest number of medical malpractice cases was the eastern Al-Ahsa region (39 medical malpractice cases).
The Makkah region also had the largest number of doctors and other medical personnel who were found guilty of medical malpractice. The Shariah medical committee of the Makkah region held 75 sessions regarding claims of medical malpractice involving doctors as well as public and private hospitals. The medical malpractice claims were filed by the families and relatives of patients who had died as a result of alleged medical mistakes.
The Shariah medical committee for the Makkah region issued decisions in seven cases in which it awarded financial compensation. The compensation ranged from SAR1,000 to SAR50,000 in four cases, SAR100,000 to SAR500,000 in two cases, and SAR500,000 to SAR1 million in one case. (one U.S. dollar equals 3.75 Saudi Riyal).
We were enlightened to learn that other countries with laws very different than our own had established methods for victims of medical malpractice to bring claims against allegedly negligent medical providers that resulted in adjudications in favor of medical malpractice claimants who were then awarded monetary damages.
Nonetheless, we prefer the laws in the United States that allow unbiased juries of our peers to decide medical malpractice cases and award compensatory damages, if warranted. Despite tort reform efforts in many states (some of which have been more successful in limiting the rights of medical malpractice victims than others), the unbiased and neutral leanings of juries in the United States, although not perfect, are the best available method of having disagreements and controversies among our citizens decided fairly and honestly under our civil laws. While litigants who lose are often unhappy with the results of their jury trials, most would agree that the jury system is valuable and serves a worthy and important role in keeping our society civilized and maintaining the peace among our brethren.
If you, a family member, or a loved one have been victimized by medical malpractice, the advice of a medical malpractice attorney is crucial in determining and protecting your legal rights.
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