Photo: Al Tamimi & Company
The 2016 Federal Medical Liability Law (‘Medical Liability Law’) was supplemented in 2019 by a cabinet resolution (‘Cabinet Resolution’) that, among other issues, provided the long awaited definition of 'gross medical error', the criteria to be examined in assessing gross medical malpractice, and the framework for the formation of medical liability committees with each health authority in the UAE (‘Medical Liability Committee’).
In light of these federal laws, in September 2019, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued two resolutions. The first, establishing the Abu Dhabi Medical Liability Committee (‘Abu Dhabi Resolution’) and the second, issuing the disciplinary regulations for the Abu Dhabi health sector (‘Disciplinary Regulations Resolution’).
Key highlights of the Abu Dhabi Resolution:
1. Consistent with the Cabinet Resolution, a Medical Liability Committee has been established, with the names, job titles, specialisation, employer and role of the members identified;
2. It is, overall, consistent with the Cabinet Resolution’s definition of ‘gross medical error’ and the scenarios and criteria wherein medical malpractice shall be considered as 'gross medical error';
3. In line with the previous legislation, the Abu Dhabi Resolution requires the agreement of two thirds of the present committee members if there is a decision as to whether the medical error is to be categorised as ‘gross’ or not; and
4. The licence of a practitioner may be temporarily suspended until the Medical Liability Committee makes its decision concerning a given case. Such suspension shall not be for more than thirty days at a time, which is renewable for similar periods.
Key highlights of the Disciplinary Regulations Resolution:
1. A disciplinary committee has been established (‘Disciplinary Committee’). The resolution outlines its competencies, procedures in reviewing the reports prepared by the Medical Liability Committee, and purview in examining complaints submitted against a healthcare facility, its owners, directors, officers in charge of its operation, or healthcare professionals working therein, along with other actions that could be carried out by the Disciplinary Committee;
2. The Disciplinary Committee’s chairman may form specialised subcommittees from among its members, or others, and the Disciplinary Committee may seek assistance of any experts and specialists whom it deems appropriate;
3. The Disciplinary Committee may decide to temporarily close the facility until the disciplinary responsibility is finally decided. It can also temporarily suspend the licence of health practitioners for a period not exceeding 30 days, which can be extended for similar periods
Overall, these resolutions are consistent in language with the Federal law and the Cabinet Resolution; although it is a potential that we may see differences in interpretation from practical application, in due course. We will address this development further by way of a Law Update article.