Friday, February 15, 2013

The Government in Crisis: Regulation of Private Hospitals

A country, that has values and morals and spends their time lecturing to their detractors, MUST as a first step ensure that there are safeguards in place to protect their citizens. In that respect instead of running shops, and getting the army to take charge of construction projects, they must first have procedures in place to regulate the practices of all businesses to ensure compliance with minimum standards.

Doctors, lawyers, hospitals, schools both in the private and the public sector must conform to standards. So if private vehicles must be subjected to smog checks, so must state ones. Vehicles owned by Forces or SLTB must be subject to the same test. Otherwise it is a mockery. These are responsibilities of the Government.

It is in this vein that I believe the two recent cases of medical negligence in the private sector, should be dealt with. It appears that the hospitals in question have engaged in unethical practices to try and absolve themselves from blame. If there were legal procedures in place for an independent enquiry then there would be an independent report one could rely on to report fairly on an issue, and point the finger at the real cause.

When a system such as ours is so heavily politicized, it is difficult to have faith even in Government Institutions tasked with such. I understand that there is an insurance ombudsman to whom complaints of unprofessional conduct against that industry can be directed. Similarly there must be a health ombudsman to direct complaints relating to the health sector.

ONE MUST REMEMBER that any professional knowing there is an independent body that will review complaints, will ensure that there is due care in his conduct, knowing that if there is an avoidable mistake he would be found liable.

In the US there is a system of medical malpractice insurance to protect doctors from lawsuits, and I am not advocating something as drastic as that as it increases costs of medicine and reduces the numbers in certain specialties that are prone to a higher risk of complications, such as obstetrics.

It is the Government’s responsibility to set up checks and balances and reassure the public that they are fulfilling their duties as elected representatives to protect their electors. These bodies I have referred to above are part of these procedures, and duties of an elected government. It is then up to the elector to choose if they have kept to their end of the bargain and if not, give someone else who is up to the task.

It is important for the reader to realize that these are real issues. Most people ignore them as being unimportant until it is them who get caught up as an innocent victim. Then they discover there is nothing they can do short of appeal to the President and hope for the best.

It is this reliance on the President that has allowed him too much in the way of control. That is wrong. We MUST have a system where there are procedures and mechanisms in place to protect our citizens from being exploited. That includes agreements with foreign countries about the employment of our citizens. These are all credible requests of a civilized society, and are woefully absent. It is up to the people of Sri Lanka to tell their swollen headed Govt. that they just DO NOT cut the muster in terms of quality and are just going through the motions of government for their personal ends leaving the citizens to fend themselves with no one to Govern them in the true sense of the word.

I do not wish to lecture those who seem to run this Government as they are too petty and ignorant to even know that there is a better method of managing a country. It is to the citizens of Sri Lanka that I appeal to take a stand on this topic and agitate for a change. You never know your luck if you try!

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