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New Insurance to Cover Medical Malpractice
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All Shenzhen's public hospitals will be forced to take out insurance against medical accidents later this year following a series of disputes between patients and hospitals, according to the latest issue of the city government's gazette.

Patients who suffer from medical malpractice will in future receive compensation from insurance companies rather than hospitals to avoid further dispute or conflict.

"Public hospitals, clinics and medical institutions will be obliged to buy the new insurance, while private hospitals are strongly recommended to buy similar cover," said the government gazette.

It said a special team comprising of officials from the city's financial affairs office, health bureau and Shenzhen Bureau of Insurance Regulatory Commission (SBIRC) will be responsible for promoting the scheme.

"Patients and their relatives are entitled to compensation from insurance companies if medical malpractice took place. This enables a fair and efficient settlement for both the patients and hospitals involved, avoiding unnecessary disputes between the two," said a spokeswoman surnamed Guo from the municipal health bureau.

Guo said the insurance would help reduce doctors' fears when dealing with patients suffering from serious conditions. It would also help reduce surgeons’ financial responsibilities when medical malpractices are confirmed.

The premium will be paid by hospitals. Public hospitals, which will receive subsidies from the municipal government, are required to record their insurance purchase with the health bureau.

However, a spokesman for the SBIRC said the new insurance policies were still being drafted by local insurance companies, and not expected until later this year.

Fourteen out of 16 hospitals in the city were embroiled in disputes with patients last year, earlier media reports said. Last week, some 600 angry protesters laid siege to a hospital in Bao'an District for four days, after a 9-year-old boy died there.

(Shenzhen Daily August 3, 2007)

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