Malpractice Insurance Gains Greater Acceptance

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RIYADH, 6 May 2008 — Medical malpractice insurance is witnessing a tremendous growth in the Kingdom, thanks to greater awareness in the medical community, a senior official at the Kingdom’s largest insurance provider said yesterday.

Fahad Al-Hesni, vice president for property and casualty at Tawuniya, said subscriptions rose by 116 percent in the first four months of the current year compared to the same period last year.

Al-Hesni attributed the unprecedented growth to the rise of insurance awareness among different medical categories as a result of numerous symposiums and conferences held by various health care providers.He pointed out that the medical professionals are now showing greater response to the Health Professions Practicing Law issued two years ago. Article 41 of the law makes it mandatory on all physicians and dentists to obtain a medical malpractice policy covering possible errors and omissions while doing their work.

Al-Hesni said the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties’ decision to link the granting of licenses to physicians with the purchase of a medical malpractice insurance policy has encouraged a large section of physicians to positively respond to the law.

Al-Hesni said the medical malpractice insurance provides a suitable mechanism to indemnify those exposed to medical malpractice by up to SR1 million. Insurance also helps expedite settlement of lawsuits related to medical malpractice.

In many cases, delays in settling lawsuits have resulted in miserable situations for patients as well as physicians. Travel bans on physicians or even putting them in jail will bring no succor to the victims of malpractice or their heirs, Al-Hesni said, adding that it is essential to have a suitable mechanism to protect the interests of patients and their relatives.

Hesni said Tawuniya would pay all claims against the policyholder in the event of an incident involving medical malpractice. The company provides a number of indemnity options, ranging from SR100,000 to SR1 million, and the indemnity limit could be raised on request by clients. The price of the policy, which starts at SR400, is determined based on the practitioner’s specialty, the limit of indemnity per claim and the total annual indemnity.

Tawuinya recently participated in a number of symposiums and conferences aimed at familiarizing physicians with the medical malpractice insurance policy, particularly in certain specialties, such as obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics, which are considered the most vulnerable areas of medical practice.

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