|When Things Go Wrong|
|Written by Administrator|
|Saturday, 22 November 2008|
The lower cost of medical care in Thailand can come with a very high price if things go wrong.
In United States, generally, there are two types of malpractice damages available to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate you for both economic and non-economic losses you endured, while punitive damages are awarded as a way to punish the defendant for committing the medical malpractice.
Economic damages are money awarded as compensation for monetary losses and expenses, which the plaintiff has incurred as a result of the defendant's negligence. Non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering damages, are things that are not easily quantified by a dollar amount such as loss of companionship, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Nineteen states have implemented limits (ie. caps) on non-economic damages at various levels ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.
In addition, Punitive damages may be awarded as a form of additional punishment for committing the medical malpractice. Forty-three states allow punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.
With all these damages, it is not uncommon for a jury to award multi-million damanges to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case.
On the contrary, medical malpractice lawsuits are rarely seen in Thailand. Most Thais would settle the case with their doctor out of court for a usually low five-figure damage, in Baht not Dollars. To put that in perspective, it's cheaper to settle for a wrongful death claim than buying a used car. One of the reasons for this is that doctors in Thailand are highly respected. When a doctor commits medical negligence, he can often easily convince the patient's relatives that it was not his fault. Most Thais would believe their doctor and move on with their life. However, the number of patients suing their doctors has been increasing in Thailand.
Even if the case goes to court, the process would take much longer and the award would be substantially lower than what a US court would award if a similar case is filed in the US.
In April, the Thai Court of Appeals ordered Samitivej hospital to pay 10 millions Baht (about $280,000) for the death of a Thai patient and her child. The verdict came after 13 years of waiting by the patient's family. The family filed the suit back in 1995 claiming that the ob/gyn physician in charge of the patient was negligent resulting in the death of the patient and the child.
Another case involved the death of an American patient at Bumrungrad hospital in early 2006. The father of the patient has been on a quest to find the persons who were responsible for the death of his son ever since. So far he has no luck with any Thai authorities or Laws. Read more about his story here. (Highly Recommended.)
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