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Basic knowledge of UAE medical law will protect both physicians and patients

Medical mistakes are regrettable but unfortunately they still happen all over the world, including in the UAE. Medical errors can take many forms including delay in implementation of treatment, the lack of due care and neglect. Doctors can be held liable and patients can incur damages as a consequence of criminal, civil and administrative liability laws governing in the UAE.

Dr. Khaldoon Walid Nabhan from the Legal Affairs Department of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), UAE, will discuss Medical Errors & Liability Law in the UAE at the upcoming Surgery Management Conference in Dubai. This topic will be discussed as part of a wider conference programme taking place during the 4th Hospital Build & Infrastructure Middle East Exhibition & Congress from 4-6 June 2012.

According to Dr. Nabhan, “Medical responsibility is influenced by the scientific progress, but it is also significantly influenced by sociological and psychological factors that often are more difficult to analyse. While medical staff and physicians are the ones likely to be held liable when it comes to faulty medical action, it is the patient themselves who could incur physical, financial or moral damage as a result of a medical mistake.  For example, the damage could be the result of incorrect indications given by a pharmacist regarding the use of a drug, or that the damage is incurred by the patient themselves through the non-commitment or non implementation of the correct medical indications.”

The last few years have seen massive investment and expansion in the healthcare industry in the UAE, as is evident from the construction and licensing of various specialised hospitals, clinics, universities and especially the free zones.  This growth has been characterised by the increased role of international healthcare service providers, with the result that increased numbers of international insurers and reinsurers are being exposed to medical malpractice risks in the UAE.

“Medical responsibility in the UAE was formerly defined and governed according to Law 7 of 1975 for the practice of medical professions, which had been a part of civil law,” says Dr. Nabhan. “The passing of Law 10 of 2008, namely the "Law on Medical Responsibility in UAE Nr (10) of 2008 ", created a new framework to deal with this issue.  One of its provisions required medical practitioners to hold insurance policies, so that insurance companies pays damages to the plaintiff (patient) is injured as a result of a physicians' negligence.  A basic knowledge of the law is required to avoid pitfalls and to safeguard oneself against errors arising from ignorance of the duties and rights of the professional person.”      

The Medical Liability Law in the UAE sets out principles to assist in determining whether a practitioner’s conduct amounts to malpractice, negligence or paying insufficient effort creates a framework for medical regulations.

“Should the criminal liability on the part of the physician be established, appropriate punishment should be inflicted,” says Dr. Nabhan. “The new Medical Liability Law imposes several penalties including imprisonment for periods ranging from three months to 10 years and fines ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 dirhams. For example, penalties may be inflicted on a person if they put an end to the life of a patient for whatever reason, undertake human cloning operations, conduct medical research or experiments on humans without license from the competent authorities, implant artificial organs in the patient's body unless proved suitable, perform Assisted Reproductive Technology or implantation of embryo in the uterus of a woman unless the sperm and egg are taken from a married couple,  and perform any operation or intervention to cause female sterilization unless the pregnancy and delivery constitute certain danger to the woman's life.”

Hospital Build & Infrastructure Middle East is the fastest-growing, global business-to-business platform dedicated to bringing together investors, commissioners, backers and managers of healthcare-related building projects with key players in planning, design, construction, operations, management, supply and refurbishment. As investment in the region's healthcare infrastructure continues to rise, the 2012 event is set to be bigger than ever with more than 130 exhibitors covering 5,000sqm of exhibition floor space, an estimated 4,500 visitors, as well as more than 600 conference delegates.

For more information about the Surgery Management Conference at Hospital Build 2012, visit