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NZMA Welcomes Medical Misadventure Changes

NZMA Welcomes Medical Misadventure Changes

16 March 2004

The New Zealand Medical Association welcomes changes to ACC's medical misadventure system which will make it much fairer for patients.

"Claimants will be able to get their entitlements and, if necessary, begin treatment much quicker under the new system," said NZMA Chairman Dr Tricia Briscoe.

"We know early access to treatment helps lead to an earlier return to work for claimants, and also reduces the need for more complex interventions that are due to complications arising from delays to treatment.

"Under the current ACC system, injuries resulting from medical treatment are handled differently from injuries sustained in other ways, which is inappropriate for a no-fault scheme. At present only serious medical misadventure claims are accepted, which is also different from other forms of injury."

Under the new system, the categories of 'medical error' (where a health practitioner is at fault) and 'medical mishap' (the result of properly given treatment) will be replaced with 'unintended injury' which will cover all adverse medical events.

The NZMA supports the move away from the punitive system of ACC finding medical error and reporting medical misadventure decisions.

"ACC's job is to ensure claimants have access to timely and effective injury treatment, compensation, rehabilitation and prevention," Dr Briscoe said. "Its role should not be to investigate health professionals. It is much more important to have good complaints systems, separate from ACC, which deal with finding fault and taking disciplinary action -- these complaints systems already exist and have been both streamlined and strengthened under the recently passed Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act and the Health (Cervical Screening Programme) Amendment Act."

The NZMA supports the decision to remove the seriousness criteria for covering personal injury caused by medical treatment. "Some patients have suffered twice in the past, first from medical misadventure, and secondly by their claim being denied because their injury was not rare or serious enough. This change brings medical misadventure into line with other types of injury." Simple and clear rules for eligibility now need to be developed so cover can be easily determined and treatment started as quickly as possible.

The NZMA commends ACC on its consultation process undertaken during the medical misadventure review. The process has been thoughtful and considered, with good consultation with all interested parties, Dr Briscoe said.


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