Medical complaint caseload shoots up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 1999, 12:00am

Complaints against doctors leaped by almost 30 per cent last year as patients were more willing to speak up, the Medical Council said yesterday.

One doctor was deregistered for 12 months, four doctors for three to six months and one was reprimanded.

The council received 245 complaints against doctors in 1998, a 28.9 per cent increase from the previous year's 190.

There were 168 complaints in 1996, 177 in 1995 and 170 in 1994.

Council chairman Professor Felice Lieh-Mak said the rise did not necessarily reflect more incidences of bad doctoring, but that patients were more willing to lodge complaints.

'I believe it is because more patients are concerned about their health and their rights,' she said.

Some 54 per cent of complaints concerned doctors disregarding their professional responsibility - such as performing unsatisfactory surgery, inappropriate drug prescriptions and misdiagnosis.

Doctors are not allowed to advertise or canvass their services but the council received 33 complaints that this had been done.

Complaints of improper or indecent behaviour towards patients also increased from two cases in 1997 to 12 last year.