Thai Medical Error Network

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Thai Medical Error Network

Thailand
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are a support network by and for people affected from medical error. We use cumulative experience to seek justice and conflict resolution around preventable medical damage. We leverage the power of collective voice to negotiate with healthcare providers and advocate policy changes toward transparency patient safety, and public awareness.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is a lack of transparency and accountability in medical errors, with no functional mechanism for redress or patient support. Victims and their families encounter the problem at their weakest – physically, financially and emotionally handicapped by the medical error. They struggle in isolation, against a medical profession that is well-connected with economic, social and political powers. Patients who fight for justice face years of obstacles, ranging from denied medical records, legal battles against revered doctors and lawyers, being blacklisted by healthcare providers and, sometimes, death threats and murders. Even when extreme patient cases make the news, hospitals can purchase commercials to buy out television stations and well-connected doctors can ask for favors. Despite being a major cause of deaths and injuries, the problem of medical error remains silenced because it threatens a powerful and sacred institution in society.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We are making visible a hidden problem. Medical error is the highest cause of death in the US, and unofficial estimates in Thailand place the number at 25,000-50,000 cases per year. Doctors and hospitals have no incentive to report such statistics. On the contrary, in cases of suspected medical error, medical records are claimed lost or, worse, altered. The national body of professional oversight, the Medical Council, has consistently denied all patient complaints as having no ground. Victims and family members who file complaints are further shunned by their doctors and hospitals, leaving no choice for patients but to remain silent in their pains. With no existing mechanism for redress or patient support, we are the only network of victims and family members affected by medical error, sharing best practices amongst one another and advocating for long-term changes at policy level. Our work cuts across professional and class divides. We mediate conflict between doctors and patients, preventing it from escalating into violence. Among victims and family members, we provide legal counseling as well as moral support, linking the rich and the poor, in urban and distant rural areas. Some reach us from their personal computers, while others from public internet cafés. We also open communication channels for victims, through workshops with medical students, national media appearances and advocacy work legislators, giving voice and faces to a formerly invisible issue.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our growing network of several thousand members, building on cumulative experience, has increased patients’ leveraging power. Across Thailand, people are more aware of patient rights, medical standards and preventable errors. Our work has even pushed the medical profession to improve public health services nationwide. For example, we publicized the incident of unsanitary cataract surgery leading to blindness in 11 patients. With media attention, it caused all public hospitals to receive new surgical equipment, saving about 300 patients at each hospital across Thailand. This is one of over 600 cases of medical error that we are supporting. We have also gained more allies in the medical profession, who now speak on our behalf, including the national Association of Rural Doctors and the Medical Students Association. In the formal justice system, we have seen the beginning of legal victories on medical errors. Since the Thai Medical Error Network was established in 2002, members have won at least ten lawsuits, receiving millions of baht in reparations, in cases which the Medical Council deemed to have no ground. Today, the draft Legislation for Protection of Victims from Medical Error is ready for parliamentary considerations. It is a result of the past seven years of advocacy and negotiations. This draft legislation has further enabled us to raise public awareness around this issue.
About You
Organization:
Thai Medical Error Network
Section 1: You
First Name

Preeyanan

Last Name

Lorsermvattana

Organization

Thai Medical Error Network

Country
Section 2: Your Organization
Organization Name

Thai Medical Error Network

Organization Phone

+66-81-629-4440

Organization Address

27 Soi Petchkasem 50/1, Bang Wah, Pasee Charoen, Bangkok, Thailand 10160

Organization Country
Your idea
Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

Building collective expertise. I train patients and family members to support others in their hospitals or localities – how to consult with hospital directors in cases of medical error, how to request medical records, how to record the patient’s account of events, how to file for assistance at various agencies.

Engaging more allies within the medical profession. I hold workshops on patient safety for medical students in Bangkok and across Thailand. The Medical Students Association wants to know about medical error, despite strong opposition from some teachers. I also work with the Rural Doctors Association and the National Human Rights Commission, which raises the attention of practitioners and legislators.

Putting a human face to an invisible issue. I am telling life stories of victims from medical errors, to illustrate the gravity of this problem. These stories are being disseminated online through our Facebook group, and have caught media and public attention.

Results

By equipping our members with the skills to raise public awareness around patient safety, we will be raising the capacity of patients to address medical error and negotiate with healthcare providers, even in distant rural areas. Our network spans across Thailand and is linked through mobile phones and the internet. Our cumulative experience will be shared with a large population at low cost.

The more allies we have, the more the Thai public understands that medical error is a public issue that can no longer be kept underneath the rug. I have high hopes for the next generation of doctors will be more sensitive to these issues of patient rights.

The personal stories will illustrate the gravity and permanence of damage caused by medical error. I believe these stories will touch people’s hearts, as my own story has touched many. A changed heart can bring a change of mind.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Year 1 and 2. We are pushing for the draft legislation to enter Parliament for consideration. This legislation provides a mechanism to support victims and families affected by medical error, without having to struggle through ten years of legal battle. Patients will not have to sue doctors, but will receive the necessary financial support to cope with damages from medical errors. This mechanism also places no blame on individual doctors, thus will reduce doctor-patient conflict.

Year 1 and 2. Because our existing network consists of victims and their families, our members are already coping with physical, financial and emotional handicaps, and are not ready to take on much more responsibility. We are looking to engage more people, who understand our working philosophy and can help us set up more formal mechanisms to sustain and scale up our work, for example, setting up a database for our network, and increasing our capacity in disseminating public information.

Year 3. We have long planned to set up a Patient Safety Foundation. It may not happen this soon, but we will move closer to making it a reality. This Foundation will educate patients about their rights and best practices in medical services. It will also continue the prevention work on raising awareness among patients, medical students and the general public about medical errors.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Some of our members, including myself, have received death threats. In one lawsuit, the victim and two witnesses were murdered. Despite continuing threats and harassment, I believe public attention is our most important safety measure.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

If yes, provide organization name.
How long has this organization been operating?

Less than a year

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

No

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

We worked with the Foundation for Consumers, a well-recognized NGO, on developing the draft legislation. We also receive advocacy support from other patient groups, such as the AIDS Access Foundation.

Independent government agencies, such as the National Human Rights Commission, has validated our cause, when no other institution was ready to recognize patient rights.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. More capacity to disseminate information in various forms: stories through the Internet and other media, road shows and workshops to raise awareness on patient safety in other parts of Thailand

2. More efficient system to manage cumulative information and experience. Currently, most of the information is based on individual memory and personal interactions amongst our members.

3. More skilled professional to help with our network. We are starting to engage such volunteers, but because they are victims and families of victims, undergoing their own processes of healing, they can only contribute so much.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

I was born and raised in the northernmost Thai province of Chiang Rai. My father was a farmer and my mother a food vendor. In my last year of secondary school, I organized fellow students to register a formal complaint against a teacher who was using money collected from the students for personal use. It was then that I began to recognize the power of organizing stakeholders into a single unified voice, to speak out against systemic problems.

I pursued higher education at Payap University in neighboring Chiang Mai province, electing to study business administration rather than education, the typical field of study for most female students at the time. Upon graduation, I moved to Bangkok to explore new career paths. I soon realized that I wanted to further my studies, particularly in English, which I saw as key to success in a newly globalizing Thailand. After briefly attending a Master’s program in England, however, I was forced to exchange my full-time studies for work, in order to provide for her aging parents back home.

Upon returning to Thailand, I married and managed my husband’s guesthouse operation, and also opened a successful photo processing shop. In 1991, I gave birth to a son who fell ill shortly after birth due to mishandled delivery and subsequent medical errors. From this point on, I began a 19-year-long legal struggle to seek justice for my son. In the process, I uncovered the many legal and policy hurdles which protect the medical profession at the expense of patient rights in Thailand. It was then that I remembered that we cannot fight alone.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Approximately 400 words left (3200 characters).

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Ashoka Thailand