Medical malpractice, in simple terms, is defined as the deviation of medical professionals from providing the accepted standard of care, which causes harm, injury, or even death to a person.Under the Medical Liability Law of 2016, a medical practitioner must conduct honest efforts and provide the necessary care under the established medical practices. In 2019, the UAE issued Cabinet Resolution No. 40 of 2019, which expanded the 2016 law and clarified certain gray areas, afew of which are discussed below:
Medical Malpractice is the act or failure of a medical professional to provide the necessary care as specified by the standard medical practices.Before the issuance of the 2019 Medical Liability Law, Medical Malpractice was defined as a "gross medical error" committed by a practitioner to a patient. Although that term was not defined in the earlier law, the later law passed in 2019 described the term and clarified other gray areas. The definition of Medical Malpractice includes the following:
Ignorance of technical issues that practitioners of the professions should be aware of
Failure to abide by the acknowledged medical standards
Failure to perform with due diligence
Failure and negligence in acting with caution
It should be noted that before the Medical Liability Law was issued, practitioners who made medical errors could also face potential criminal liability for almost any error. However, after the inclusion of "gross medical error" in the definition of Medical Malpractice, practitioners could only be held criminally liable if they were found to have committed a "gross medical error".
"Gross medical error" is defined in Article 5 of the Executive Regulations. It also includes examples, scenarios, and criteria where medical malpractice would fall under "gross medical error."
Included among them are:
Death of the patient or fetus
Removal of human organs through mistake or loss of their function
Unacceptable unfamiliarity with established medical standards
Adoption of medically unrecognized methods
Deviation from standards and rules of practicing the profession
Medical practitioners conducting treatment while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or psychotropic substances.
Medical practitioners practicing beyond the scope of their specialization.
Victims of Medical Malpractice have three options to recover compensation:
A complaint can be filed with the local healthcare authority.
A civil complaint can be filed before the civil courts to seek compensation for damages or injuries; and/or
A criminal complaint can be pursued against the doctor or health care practitioners.
In addition to compensation through the courts, the revised Medical Malpractice law introduced penalties against medical practitioners. Included among these penalties are imprisonment for not more than a year and/or AED 200,000 fine to practitioners found to commit gross medical errors. However, if the gross medical error caused the death of the victim, imprisonment of two years or less will be imposed and/or an AED500,000 fine. This imprisonment could be extended to two years and a fine of less than AED1,000,000 if the practitioner was found to commit a gross medical error while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.