Patients Currently Do Not Have Time Limit To File Complaints

The next time you visit a hospital and are unfairly treated, you may want to report the incident immediately.

According to CNA, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (21 May) that patients may face a time limit when wishing to complain about their doctors to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).

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Currently, there is no time limit after the treatment for when a patient can file a complaint. This means a patient can complain about his/her doctor 50 years after a particular treatment.

No time limit unfair to doctors

When a patient decides to complain about a doctor to SMC, the doctor has to respond.

However, doctors may be unable to defend themelves when complaints come years after patient records have been removed.

If they are unable to defend themselves, they could face disciplinary actions. With the new 3-year time limit, doctors will have greater access to the patient’s documents and be more able to defend themselves.

Faster and fairer complaint process for patients

To make things fairer, a new screening process will be implemented.

This process will filter out repeat and “outrageous” complaints. Remaining cases will be split into 3 categories by a 3-person Complaint Committee.

  • Complaints that require medication
  • Cases that require a formal enquiry by a Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Instances which require further investigation

MOH is also looking at shorten the complaint process to 1.5 years.

Currently, the Disciplinary Tribunal can extend their decision indefinitely. To help legitimate complaints reach a resolution quickly, these extensions may be subjected to various criteria by MOH.

New complaint process has not been finalised

This new process however, has not been finalised. The review committee is still deciding on the time limit. It is expected to be completed at the end of 2019.

The time limit and complaint process should be beneficial not only to doctors but also to patients. Which is a good thing, because after all, many doctors in public hospitals are already working long, exhausting hours.

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Featured image from Google Maps.