Legal eye: Medical Negligence Law in the UAE

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What do you understand by the term “medical negligence”? It is an act or a “failure to act” by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care

What is the significance of Medical Negligence Law in the UAE?

An act or omission (failure to act) by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care is Medical Negligence. Under the Medical Liability Federal Law No. 4 of 2016 (the “2016 Law”), a medical professional is required to take necessary care and make honest efforts in line with established medical practices. Failure to follow this or failure to pay attention to the medical procedure or lack of caution is considered as medical malpractice. The Federal law of 2016 states that in order to prove criminal medical negligence “Gross Medical Error” must have occurred. Earlier the term “Gross Medical Error’ was not properly defined in that law. Later in 2019, the UAE passed Cabinet Resolution No. 40 by explaining the term ‘Gross Medical Error” and also clarified other grey areas in the act.

What is covered under the term “Gross Medical Error”

Article 5 of the Executive Regulations defines a gross medical error, and it may include:

An error that causes the death of the patient or fetus, the eradication of an organ by mistake,

The loss of an organ function, the doctor being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and

Severe carelessness, such as giving an overdose or leaving medical equipment in the patient’s body

What legal steps can be taken by a victim to file medical malpractice cases in UAE?

A medical malpractice lawyer in Dubai can easily guide you throughout the process. There are three steps to be followed by a victim in these types of cases. First, he can approach the health-care authority by filing a complaint. The health authority should then forward the complaints to the Committee of Medical Liability referred to in the Medical Liability Law, and the committee then should prepare a justification report for each case. Second, he can approach a civil court for compensation of the damages or injury caused to him and finally he can file a criminal complaint against the physician or clinic.

While applying for compensation what aspects can be addressed?

A victim or his legal heir (if the victim is deceased) can claim compensation for emotional stress, loss of income, psychological pain and suffering , medical expenses, loss of love and many other areas too.

Can Diya (blood) money be claimed for medical negligence?

If death is caused by the negligence act of a practitioner, he can be sued for compensation as well as for Diya money. At present in the UAE the Diya money is set as Dh200,000. Article 34 of the Law states that doctors who commit medical errors or negligence resulting in the loss of a patient’s life will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to Dh500,000 and can extend to imprisonment of not more than two years and a fine of not more than Dh1,000,000 if the gross medical error was committed under influence of alcohol or drugs.

The author is an Indian lawyer in Dubai

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