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Mediclinic News : Too expensive to practice medicine?

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Too expensive to practice medicine?

Date

2018-01-18

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MEDICAL ACADEMIC A medical qualification is useless if you can’t afford to practice. The resultant emigration of healthcare professionals adds to SA’s doctor shortage – a situation which is placing the country’s entire healthcare system at considerable risk. It’s no secret the brain drain of SA’s medical practitioners to foreign shores has potentially devastating consequences for the SA healthcare system. But with medical malpractice insurance costs reaching exorbitant highs, newly qualified specialists (who’ve taken up to 15 years to qualify) are left with little choice when they can’t afford to set up a practice as they don’t have the revenue stream to provide for malpractice insurance. It’s no secret the brain drain of SA’s medical practitioners to foreign shores has potentially devastating consequences for the SA healthcare system According to an Econex survey commissioned by the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) in 2015, there were just 60 doctors per 100 000 people in 2013; and the world average is 152. “While it is uncertain how many doctors have emigrated”, said Volker von Widdern, group chief executive officer of Constantia Insurance Company Limited (CICL), “Econex reported that between 2004 and 2009, 17% of doctors who had qualified did not report for community service. It is estimated that there are currently only 7 000 medical specialists practicing in SA.” The issue around the cost of insurance premiums is a very real consideration for doctors currently in practice and those looking to start a career in medicine. Over the last 15 years premiums have reportedly doubled every five years with doctors being given little if any data that supports the reasons behind premium hikes. “Many of these professionals have felt trapped by spiking medical PI premiums, hindering their retirement plans and leaving them feeling they have little control over their destinies,” said Von Widdern. Litigation for alleged negligence by healthcare institutions is claiming increasing proportions of health spend, he says, pointing to the fact that over the last ten years, settlements have shot up from below R15 million to some that reach R40 million. “Doctors are an indispensable national asset and should be protected,” says Von Widdern. “We believe up to 90% of South Africa’s doctors are good quality risks. And the way we approach our business makes for a realistic and sustainable pricing of premiums”. 10 Facts: Impact of medical malpractice suits on SA healthcare 1. In 2014 doctors warned the health system could collapse as medical negligence lawsuits were driving up the cost of private insurance for doctors, making practising certain specialities of medicine too expensive and risky. (South African Medical Journal, Volume 104, 11, 2014) 2. The number of claims against healthcare professionals in SA rose by 35% between 2011 and 2016, and the value of the claims during this period increased 121%. (Medical Protection Casebook, August 2017) 3. Complaints to the Health Professions Council of SA have risen by 100% to 2500 a year against doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals (Medical Protection Casebook, August 2017) 4. Malpractice claims have become more complex and frequently involve multiple experts. Wrongful life claims, wrongful birth claims, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and birth defect claims are examples of new types of claims. (Medical Protection Casebook, August 2017) 5. SA Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president, Dr Johannes van Waart said in 2013, insurance against potential malpractice suits cost R250 000 a year; it is R850 000 in 2017, and expected to be R1m within a year. (Ethics under scrutiny as medical malpractice claims soar, Business Day, 26 September 2017) 6. According to Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, from the 2014/15 financial year to the 2016/17 financial year, more than R2.3 billion was paid to cover medical negligence claims – with the state’s contingent liability for the claims sitting at R56 billion. (Taxpayers fork out over R2.3 billion for medical negligence at state hospitals, BusinessTech, 31 October 2017) 7. Motsoaledi says 360 claims have been lodged in the current (2017/18) financial year so far, amounting to R241 million. Although some of the claims are legitimate, many of them are excessive and unjustified. (Tax payers fork out over R2.3 billion for medical negligence at state hospitals, BusinessTech, 31 October 2017) 8. Rising medical PI insurance costs are also having an impact on doctors’ and hospitals’ costs. The rising cost of funding malpractice insurance is having a serious impact on obstetricians, often forcing doctors to charge a co-payment for their services. (Obstetrics in a State of Crisis, IOL News, 4 September 2016) 9. Doctors are the backbone of hospitals. SA’s three biggest private hospital groups make a significant contribution to the economy, generating R55.5 billion, or 1.3% of gross domestic product (GDP), in 2016, according to research by Econex. (Private hospitals’ contribution to the South African economy 2016/2017, Econex, September 2017) 10. Econex reports that for every person directly employed by private hospital groups, almost five additional formal and informal jobs are supported in the SA economy, and for every R10 million of capital investment, private hospital groups create 20 jobs. (Private hospitals’ contribution to the South African economy 2016/2017, Econex, September 2017)
Created at 2018/03/06 03:39 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2018/03/06 03:48 PM by Mediclinic