Thursday, March 28, 2019

Facing a healthcare dispute? Try mediation

Are you familiar with the Healthcare Mediation Unit (HMU)? It’s where mediation services are offered to anyone facing a healthcare dispute.  

The HMU works with the Singapore Mediation Centre (a subsidiary under the Singapore Academy of Law) to appoint experienced and independent co-mediators who will listen, discuss and work with all involved parties to reach an amicable solution. Here’s an example of how the HMU helped with a situation:

Mr “A”, whose father was in a nursing home, was under the impression that his father was “infected” with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) at the nursing home. MRSA is a group of bacteria that causes infections in different parts of the body.

When discussions between Mr “A” and the nursing home stalled, he lodged repeated complaints with his MP and MOH. At the same time, he also asked for compensation from the home. At MOH’s encouragement, Mr “A” called the HMU’s helpline to apply for mediation.

When approached by the HMU, the nursing home said it was also open to resolving the dispute via mediation. Thereafter, two neutral and independent mediators were appointed to conduct the mediation.

During mediation, the nursing home realised that Mr “A” was under the impression that his father was infected with MRSA, when he was in fact, colonised with MRSA. The mediators explained to him the differences between colonisation and infection – an infected patient requires treatment, whereas a colonised patient does not require treatment since the bacteria does not cause illness. With this discovery, Mr “A” withdrew his claim for compensation as he had presumed his father needed treatment for his “infection”. No money changed hands between Mr “A” and the nursing home.

At the same time, the nursing home recognised that it could have better managed its communication, and invited Mr “A” to join its patient feedback committee to review its existing operating procedures.

Both parties walked away satisfied with the outcome.

Through a constructive and forward-looking dialogue, parties can resolve complaints on medical negligence, medical errors and service issues. This saves time and money for everyone as mediation is cheaper and faster compared to legal action. Click here to find out more about the HMU.

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