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Issues 14

Makan-Makan Bagi Meraikan Audit ISO 9001:2015
Dinner at Sweetree Restaurant, Ampang.

Healthcare sector is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the world economy. The lucrative market of healthcare has led to the mushrooming of private healthcare facilities.

The implications of commercialisation of medical practice may be positive as well as negative. Commercialisation of medical practice have helped in acquiring new technology but at the same time the cost of drugs and medical care have increased tremendously over the years. Medical-tourism have become a global trend in which contribute to even ever rising cost of medical care. Such increase in costs may not be a burden to rich medical tourists from developed countries but surely a burden to local population who may not be able to afford expensive healthcare. By putting financial gain as the main objective in providing medical treatment, the medical profession has been accused of self-interest, lack of compassion and not adhering to the tenets of virtue and ethics that requires selflessness. When medicine is run as business for profit, the rise in the cost denies good medical care to the poor. So, healthcare – whose benefit is it for?

In the past medical practitioners were adored as gods for their healing powers. They had considerable powers over their patients and society as well as regulating their own medical practice. Patients then hardly complain of the outcome of treatment given by medical practitioners. Although the role of healer remained fairly constant for the medical profession, their status and obligations changed in response to societal needs and professionalism. By paying for their services, patients have certain expectations of what the outcome of the treatment should be. They are now more willing to challenge doctors and hospitals if any mishaps occur. Society expected them to be answerable for the outcome of their medical treatment and they should be subjected to punishment and regulations. As such a code of behaviour, known as medical ethics, was introduced to regulate the conduct of medical providers. The main medical ethos in the healthcare setting is that a doctor is there for the benefit of his patients. 

Not only they are expected to place importance to their patients’ welfare but also expected not to do harm and to uphold the doctrine of medical confidentiality.

The medical profession’s professional status is not inherent right but is granted by society and they are not able to function effectively as healers without the trust of society. Law has also developed to achieve coherency with moral obligations as well as expectations of society. This is particularly evident with the introduction of various legislations to overcome the rigidness of the common law. In certain circumstances, there is an expectation among the community that a doctor will attend to a person in dire need of attention even though he is not legally obligated to. He is expected to share his expertise for the good of his community. Court has extended its long arms in reaching out to society to place medical practitioners in their correct perspectives. This is so in the case of Lowns v Woods (1996) AustTotrs Rep 63, 151where the Australian courts have opened up the liability of medical practitioners for negligent for failure to attend and treat non-patients in an emergency. A doctor, by virtue of his training, qualification and registration is permitted and recognised by the community as having the capacity and accorded the privilege of affording medical treatment and so is expected to provide medical attention to those who require it as and when necessary.