Medical malpractice constitutes an incident where a doctor fails to exercise the degree of care and skill that a physician or surgeon of the same medical specialty would use under similar circumstances,.
Take this case for instance, a single mother has been battling to provide for her sick five year old as she waits for his second scheduled surgery to correct some abdominal nerve anomaly diagnosed earlier.
On the material day, she waits outside the surgery room only to have the doctor walk out prematurely and inform her that there is a problem.
It turns out that during the first surgery, the wrong medication was administered and so the child’s abdominal system is still not ready to be operated on and all they can do is flash out the medicine and reschedule the surgery.
She is advised to go home and wait yet another month, upon return a month later, the same scenario is repeated.
Doctor comes to her as she waits outside the surgery room only to inform her that the last time she was there, they did not flash out all the medicine.
“But we will do it right this time” he pledges and sends her home to wait, this time two months because the waiting list has grown longer.
A well off and informed family would know that it is time to get a lawyer, in fact, it was time when she was first informed that the hospital ‘made a mistake.’
However, most Tanzanians are poor and ill informed, so in the above scenario that is based on actual occurrence in Dar es Salaam, the woman returned home with her sick child to wait two months so the hospital can correct a mistake they made, twice.
All the while the child suffers high fever is in constant pain and cries relentlessly, the mother cannot afford a babysitter and is forced to bring her sick child to her minimum wage job.
Similar cases happen unfortunately all too often, well off and informed families are able to pursue their right and sue the doctors involved, however, it is the majority of Tanzanians that suffer quietly, alone.
Without knowledge or the finances to take the case to court, they are left injured and without compensation.
Now that we are reviewing our Mother Law, the Constitution, we must take this opportunity to include a law that will, through the Attorney General’s office, hold the government responsible for malpractice in all fields.
Not only to seek legal action against the perpetrators but to also ensure compensation to victims.
It is important that the law forces public representatives to protect the public from professional negligence to ensure trust is secured between wananchi and their government.