Three months to give reports
THE ACUTE FRUSTRATION endured by accident victims who are unable to get timely medical reports should soon be a thing of the past.
That’s because doctors will now face disciplinary action if they fail to supply medical reports to their patients within three months of the documents being requested.
This was among several initiatives outlined by Minister of Health Donville Inniss in the House of Assembly yesterday during the second reading of the Medical Profession Bill 2010.
The bill, which was later passed, repeals the 1972 Medical Registration Act.
The new legislation facilitates the establishment of the Barbados Medical Council; the registration of medical practitioners; the regulation of the conduct and discipline of medical practitioners; the prescription of qualifications, approval of standards and requirement for continual education and training; and the regulation of advertising by medical practitioners.
Inniss said that for a long time there had been “far too many” complaints from patients about doctors not preparing medical reports to enable legal claims to be settled, and Government intended to bring an end to that situation.
He explained that failure to provide medical or surgical reports to a patient, next of kin or person designated by the patient within three months of being requested would be considered “professional misconduct”.
The St James South MP said he had reviewed the files on the matter and there had been no objections by the medical fraternity, including the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, and his conclusion was that the proposal was in the best interest of all concerned.
Inniss said he would not be insisting on one set of standards for private practitioners and another for Government departments. He noted the Queen Elizabeth Hospital employed 248 doctors, and that institution was not absolved from great condemnation for tardiness in providing reports.
He encouraged doctors to use available technology such as electronic transcription to be more efficient in this regard.
Inniss announced innovations to the composition of the Barbados Medical Council, which would now include two members of the general public who did not represent any particular interest or group. Those members would be chosen by the minister.
Inniss, who indicated there had been wide consultation on the legislation, said that the Barbados Medical Council
would be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a system to enable the continual assessment of the level and adequacy of medical training of doctors.
He added this was to ensure conformity with established national and international standards.
Noting that all doctors, including specialists, had to be registered, Inniss said the Medical Council would be required to remove from the register the name of a medical practitioner who failed to renew his or her registration by April 1 annually.
He said specialists would be eligible to be registered in a “specialist register”, explaining that presently all doctors were basically registered as general practitioners.
Inniss also outlined a number of guidelines related to the investigation of complaints against doctors by the Medical Council, noting these could take the form of a preliminary investigation, review, an informal hearing or formal hearing.