Medical complaints rise by 13% in Bahrain

Majority of the complaints made by individuals was against the private sector (104) followed by the public sector (61) and two unspecified

  

Bahrain - There was a 13 per cent increase in medical complaints last year, of which 38pc were lodged against medics.

In its annual report, which the GDN obtained a copy of, the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) said it completed investigations into 177 cases last year.

Among the total cases, medical error was identified in 20pc of them while the disciplinary committee issued 37 disciplinary actions that included 10 suspensions, 18 warning notices, and one cancellation of professional licence.

The NHRA’s annual report for last year also showed that its medical complaints unit received 257 cases for investigation, of which 167 were reported by individuals, 33 by healthcare facilities and 57 referred by the judicial authority.

Majority of the complaints made by individuals was against the private sector (104) followed by the public sector (61) and two unspecified.

Of the 33 complaints lodged by healthcare facilities, 24 were from the public sector.

“Thirty-eight per cent of the complaints were related to the treating physician, 50pc related to the healthcare facility and the rest were related to allied health professionals, nurses, pharmacists or others,” said the report.

“The technical investigating committee was able to complete the investigation of 177 cases last year, demonstrating an increase of 53pc from 2018.

“Of the closed cases, no medical error or violation of principles, duties, requirements and of ethics was determined in 39pc; meanwhile, medical error was identified in 20pc.

“The disciplinary committee issued 37 disciplinary actions that included 10 suspensions, 18 warning notices, and one professional licence was cancelled.”

The authority registered the highest number of complaints in dentistry (21) followed by obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, dermatology and general surgery (14 each).

Allied medical services had 13 complaints while accident and emergency reported 11 complaints.

The highest incidents were reported in the general practice, while the highest number of lawsuits were registered in obstetrics and gynaecology, general surgery and dentistry (eight each).

The total number of registered healthcare facilities last year reached 746, an increase of four per cent from 2018, largely due to a 10pc increase in the number of registered medical centres.

The number of hospitals decreased to 19 from 21 in 2018, as two hospitals changed into medical centres.

The report also recorded an increase in new licences for healthcare professionals, mostly in the field of nursing (63pc) followed by allied health professions (26pc).

The authority said it completed 3,253 new applications for all categories of professionals which include 651 medical licences, 271 dentist licences, 1,221 nursing licences, 840 allied health professional licences and 270 pharmacist licences.

NHRA chief executive Dr Maryam Al Jalahma said an increase in inspection activities led to the identification of numerous violations that were rectified last year.

“We increased our inspection activities in facilities and pharmacies and identified numerous violations that were rectified in 2019,” she said.

“The national accreditation programme revealed many areas of focus for NHRA to assist facilities in attaining accreditation and therefore improving the quality of services provided.

“The launching of the investors’ office in 2019 had a very positive impact on new investments in healthcare coming into Bahrain by providing support and guidance to new investors.

“Additionally in 2019, processes were put in place to improve NHRA communication with its clients and stakeholders.

“This initiative has significantly reduced the response time to queries to NHRA and subsequently improved many of our customer satisfaction scores.”

The report also revealed that the authority has completed almost 90pc of its five-year operational plan (2016-2020) under the Supreme Council for Health (SCH), which focused on the most important objectives to be achieved by the end of this year.

Among those pending are setting conditions and regulations for malpractice insurance for professionals, developing pharmacovigilance system for healthcare facilities as well as developing a surveillance system for reporting medical errors and one for reporting medical devices recall, alert and adverse events.

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