Council disappointed with Shavneet’s case

31/12/2008 15:33

The Consumer Council of Fiji is disappointed with the ruling on the two doctors implicated in Shavneet’s case. The Council views the mere fine of $500 as a slap on the face on Shavneet’s grieving parents and family members. The meagre fine is also a slap on the face of many other patients who entrust their lives in the hands of doctors in Fiji who fail to exercise due care in treating patients. Not only the justice was delayed to Shavneet’s parents but also the ruling denied justice given to Shavneet’s parents. The lenient disciplinary action against the two doctors is certainly a cause for concern.

The government has a paramount duty to protect the lives of every citizen and therefore these two doctors should not get away with a mere fine. While doctor negligence is not often intentional, it is preventable. Doctors must be held accountable to the patient because their mistakes and negligence have much greater consequences. It is a fact that public believe that doctors will not harm patients, but rather help remedy the sickness we present to them but the reality is that doctor negligence do harm thousands of people every year around the world. Some countries use Medical Board to discipline cases and it also gives statistics on doctor negligence but unfortunately for Fiji the efforts are made to cover up and blame the “system”.

The Fiji Medical Association President Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete in his reaction to the disciplinary ruling commented that the two doctors are not to be blamed but the health system in the country. Isn’t the health system man-made and not god-given that it cannot be fixed? If health care system is the problem then why is it not being addressed? Is it left that way so that health professionals can take cover behind the poor health system? For number of years public heard the same rhetoric about the “system” but not much on fixing the system.

On several occasions, lives have been put at risk due to trust placed in incompetent and negligent doctors who often are not held accountable and taken to task. Patients have previously complained about doctors rushing through their diagnosis and prescribing wrong medications. Consumers have more than often voiced their concerns, complaints and frustrations pertaining to the poor quality services found at the public and private health hospitals and health centres around the country. They complain of long queues, long waiting hours, nurse’s negative attitude, inadequate facilities, unhygienic hospital environment, delayed doctor arrivals, doctor negligence, incompetent doctors, shortage of doctors and nurses and shortage of drugs. Obviously, as taxpayers, consumers desire to receive quality and standardardised services from the health sector.

The Ministry of Health cannot ignore the fact that almost on a daily basis there is criticism by the public through media on our health services. One has to read the Auditor generals report to understand why the services offered by the Ministry of Health are deteriorating. It is extremely important that the interim government must review the health service in totality to improve the service and to hold doctors accountable.