Legal move will hurt patients

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 September, 1998, 12:00am

It would be dangerous for patients if medical negligence was made a criminal offence in Hong Kong as discussed in recent issues of the South China Morning Post.

What doctor would take on a risky or complicated case, knowing a bad outcome (as determined by a group of lawyers) could send him or her to prison? Even the United States, where trial lawyers rule, has not gone this far. Reckless or malicious conduct already can be dealt with as criminal negligence, but this applies to only a small minority of cases.

Standards of care here can and should improve, but making doctors into criminals is not the way to do so - it will only hurt the sick.

JOHN J MICHON, MD Eye Unit Queen Mary Hospital Chinese University of Hong Kong