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12.08.2004 Crime & Punishment

Legal Consultant urges doctors to take on their colleagues

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Accra, Aug. 12, GNA - Mr. B.J. Da Rocha, a Legal Consultant, on Thursday urged doctors not to shy away from giving evidence in cases involving professional negligence brought against their colleagues. He said once doctors refused to supply evidence in such cases some doctors might end up getting away with murders and the image of the medical profession would be dented.

Mr. Da Rocha was speaking a day's seminar on "Professional liability - the position of the medical practitioner," which was organised by the Ghana Legal Literacy and Resource Foundation in Accra.

The Legal Consultant said in cases where the facts of a case spoke for itself it was difficult for patients to bring cases of professional negligence against a doctor without some assistance from another doctor. He said it was necessary in such cases for doctors to step forward and provide evidence to pin down a doctor who had been found to be negligent and caused damage or death.

Mr Da Rocha said it was important for medical practitioners to deal with patients with candour and fairness, update themselves with modern trends in medicine and keep a safe and clean environment to secure the best interest of their patients and avoid law suits linked to professional negligence.

He said doctors should keep all records of patients, employ competent and qualified staff and make sure that they did not leave their duties to para-medical staff that were not qualified to attend to patients.

The Legal Consultant said when doctors failed to provide the necessary skill and care in dealing with patients they were in breach of contract.

Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, said it was always important for doctors to get the consent of patients before treating them especially in cases involving surgery and other complicated treatment.

He said the consent of a patient could also be sought from close family members on behalf of patients in some cases.

The Chief Justice, Justice George Kingsley Acquah, who opened the meeting said the Foundation was established in 1994 to make the law simple to ordinary people.

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