6 June 2024

The Thai government is to issue a decree to limit the legal exposure of medical personnel in litigation brought by COVID-19 patients or their relatives seeking compensation for loss of life or other damage caused to patients in the course of treatment.

Defending the decree, which is now being drafted, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today that the purpose is to enable medics to treat COVID-19 to the full extent of their capabilities, without worrying that they may be sued.

He maintained, however, that the scope of legal protection for medical staff would be confined to good faith actions, not gross negligence or prejudice.

Meanwhile, Director-General of Health Service Support Department Dr.Tharet Karatnairawiwong pointed out that several hospitals are not sufficiently equipped or staffed to cope effectively with COVID-19, meaning not every patient receives the proper treatment.

The decree will protect medical personnel from certain lawsuits and boost their morale while tending to the sick, he said, adding that the committee drafting the law is open to opinions from all stakeholders, to ensure that the legislation serves the best interests of all concerned.

The law will cover medical personnel in all fields involved in the treatment of COVID-19, as well as volunteers and other individuals involved in the procurement of medical equipment, medication and vaccines who are working under the emergency situation in government or private hospitals, field hospitals or at venues outside hospitals, said Dr. Tharet.