KATHMANDU, Sept 26: Thousands of patients across the country were deprived of medical treatment at hospitals where doctors shut down the OPD (out patient department) services to protest a proposed law on malpractice compensation.
Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the umbrella organization of medical doctors, has boycotted the OPD in protest against the government’s decision to formulate a law that will provision compensation for patients if they suffer harm due to doctors’ negligence in the course of treatment.
Agitating doctors Monday encircled the Ministry of Health, demanding a commitment not to bring such a law.
A cabinet meeting on Monday urged the doctors to withdraw their protest and return to work.
The government has shown lack of irresponsibility in issuing a statement without any sound commitment, according to an NMA statement signed by its general secretary Dr Lochan Karki. “Our decision to keep OPD services shut at hospitals, medical and dental colleges, nursing homes, clinics and other health facilities continues in effect,” said Dr Karki. “However, emergency services will not be halted.”
Dr Dhundi Raj Paudel, vice-president of NMA, said that the government yesterday agreed to bring a law on the security of doctors and hospitals. “We demanded that the government bring in a law restricting attacks on hospitals but the cabinet held today did not do anything about this,” he added.
Dr Dilip Sharma, member-secretary of Nepal Medical Council, said that both the government and doctors must exercise restraint. “They should seek an amicable way out of the problem instead of aggravating the situation,” he added.
NMA had warned the government that it should revoke its decision within 72 hours after the cabinet meeting held on September 18 decided to formulate a law provisioning compensation for patients if doctors harm them in the course of treatment or surgery because of negligence.
Relatives and kin of patients have often vandalized private hospitals, mostly in Kathmandu Valley, following the death of patients or harm to their organs.
There are 109 government and 154 private hospitals across the country with a total of 7,394 beds, according to the organization of private hospitals.