The Need for Accountability in the Healthcare Sector
What is Accountability and the Need for it in the Healthcare Sector?
A well functioning healthcare system encompasses the principles of diligent and reliable care, attentiveness to the patients and compassionate service from the caregivers, and most importantly accountability on the part of the healthcare providers. Taking the last aspect, which is the accountability of the healthcare providers, it is very important for any healthcare system in any country around the world to be accountable for the care that its practitioners provide. The definition of accountability in healthcare is that the practitioners and the facilitators of healthcare have to be held responsible for any lapses in the healthcare provided and have to be accountable for the outcomes of the treatment that they provide to the patients. Of course, accountability does not mean that every patient who does not recover or where the outcome of the treatment is negative has the right to hold the healthcare provider accountable. In other words, accountability in the healthcare sector is all about how the treatment and the healthcare provided to the patients is free from medical lapses, errors in judgment, failures of the doctors and the clinical personnel, and inadequate and late treatment of the patients. To elaborate, a well functioning and successful healthcare system has to be accountable in the courts of law where the case against the healthcare providers by the aggrieved patients or their relations has to stand the scrutiny of the laws of the land and malpractices punished.
The Practice of Accountability in the United States
If we survey the principle and practice of accountability in the healthcare sector around the world, we find that the West is miles ahead of other regions in the world as far as accountability of the healthcare providers is concerned. Of particular note is the practice of accountability in the United States where the healthcare providers are always alert and vigilant to possible malpractices and negligence, which can result in expensive lawsuits, and possible jail terms when the doctors and the clinicians are found guilty. Even in cases where patients fail to prove negligence in a court of law, it is often the case that the bad publicity that the healthcare providers get from the trials acts as a deterrent. Of course, this does not mean that the healthcare system in the US is perfect and free from medical malpractices as the patients or their relatives often find it hard to fight the barracuda of lawyers who are at the disposal of the healthcare providers. Indeed, the fact that many healthcare providers often get away in the lawsuits because they have access to the best legal luminaries in the country is one reason why the United States takes the medical malpractice lawsuits seriously and the judicial system makes all possible efforts to mediate between the healthcare providers and the victims to settle the dispute in an out of court settlement.
The Lacunae in Accountability in Other Regions
However, the situation in many regions of the world including Asia is pathetic as far as accountability of the healthcare providers is concerned. In many developing countries, it is not often that we find the patients or their relations taking the doctors and the clinicians to court even though there are thousands of malpractices that occur in these countries. The reason for this is the lethargic and the tardy judicial system which when combined with the fact that most doctors and clinicians in these countries are well connected and are powerful means that there is lot of pressure on the patients and their relations to desist from legal action and instead, reach a compromise with the hospitals. This aspect needs to be remedied urgently as medical malpractices rank next only to premeditated crimes in their effect on the victims. Further, with many countries in Asia opening up their medical sectors to medical tourism, the sooner the laws and the judicial system are reformed to allow and enable patients and victims recourse under the law, the better it is for these countries in their efforts to woo foreign medical tourists.
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