Ecuador’s Medical Association is warning that a new medical malpractice laws could force hundreds of doctors out the profession.
On Wednestay, 90 doctors from Pablo Arturo Suarez Hospital in Quito resigned in mass to protest the new law that, in some cases, criminalizes acts of negligence. According the medical association, resignations in other hospitals may follow.
Doctors claim that medical malpractice language in Article 146 of the new penal code is too vague, opening the door for criminal charges to be made against physicians who are simply doing their jobs. “The language must be clarified so there is a clearer understanding of what it means,” said one of the Quito doctors who resigned.
The penal code is being finalized by the National Assembly will likely be enacted into law. According to Assembly members and President Rafael Correa, who met with doctors about the prosposed law in October, changes have been made in the original wording. They also say that they have met with a number of medical groups who did not object to the law.
The medical association says that the new law, if enacted, will make it even more difficult for the expanded national public health system to fill positions. The Social Security administration, which operates the health system, says that there are is a deficit of 6,000 physicians that need to be filled.