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Women stage head-shaving protest Demand bill on medical malpractice be sped up

Bangkok Post
Published: 16/10/2010 at 12:00 AM
Veteran health activist Preeyanan Lorsermwattana held a head-shaving protest yesterday to denounce the government's slow progress in pushing forward the draft bill on medical malpractice compensation.
Preeyanan Lorsermwattana, right, leader of the Thai Medical Error Network, sits next to a ‘‘victim’’ after having her head shaved at the Food and Drug Administration to protest at the government’s slow progress in pushing forward the medical malpractice compensation bill.
Tiyamas Yothee, the mother of a boy who become disabled due to alleged medical malpractice, also joined the protest.
The 10-minute proceedings, held during a meeting of the tripartite panel studying the draft bill at the Food and Drug Administration, shocked officials and reporters.
"If the government doesn't move the draft bill forward, it may not be only hair next time," Ms Preeyanan said in tears after her head was shaved. "We feel we have been double-crossed. It's the government's promises that cannot be trusted."
Ms Preeyanan and Ms Tiyamas claim their sons developed crippling disabilities as a result of complications during birth that were caused by medical malpractice.
Ms Preeyanan filed a lawsuit against the Medical Council of Thailand in 2003 but her case was rejected by the Supreme Court last year.
Ms Tiyamas's son, two-year-old Chawarin Ongprasert, suffered brain damage and blindness due to complications during birth. Her case is still pending at the Criminal Court.
"This protest is not for myself or my family but for every Thai as they have rights to be protected by law from medical malpractice. We don't want to sue doctors. Why doesn't the government just do what they promised [push forward the bill]?" Ms Preeyanan said.
Mr Preeyanan, who founded the Thai Medical Error Network, has campaigned for enforcement of the draft bill on medical malpractice compensation, which she said would enable patients to depend on a new mechanism instead of filing lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
She has attended more than 800 meetings over the past few years to help bring about the legislation.
The 49-year-old mother vowed to dissolve her network once the law came into force in a symbolic move to show that affected patients could now rely on the new mechanism under the law.
The controversy over the draft bill will come to a head again on Monday when supporters and opponents of the legislation discuss if the draft bill should be shelved or pushed forward to parliament for consideration.
Doctors are standing by their stance of dissolving the legislation process and starting public hearings, while health activists are calling on doctors to negotiate in detail during House and Senate panels instead.
The meeting, hosted by government chief whip Witthaya Kaewparadai, will be held at Government House.
Meanwhile, the tripartite panel appointed to seek solutions to the impasse over the draft bill has reached initial compromises on some issues.
Paijit Warachit, permanent secretary for public health and the panel's chairman, said some doctors and patient groups yesterday agreed that the name of the draft bill should be changed to the draft bill on the protection of patients and medical providers from damages caused by the public health system.
The panel also agreed that those receiving compensation under the law should not take their cases to criminal courts.
A mediation process will be excluded from the draft bill to avoid causing complications in the process.
However, both sides still have different views on major issues such as the definition of medical service standards and the composition of a committee considering compensation.

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