Vietnam health minister says malpractice is inevitable

By Nguyen Mi, Thanh Nien News

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Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (R) replies to a question at the National Assembly April 1 Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (R) replies to a question at the National Assembly April 1
Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien told a National Assembly session Tuesday that malpractice is inevitable although the health sector is making all-out efforts to avoid mistakes.
Replying to representatives’ queries during a Q&A session at the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, Tien said she could not answer for sure when malpractice would end.
“Once you are sick, you can be cured, but you can also have complications, which may be fatal.
“So is malpractice. It is inevitable.”
Tien said the health sector is working seriously to punish doctors and nurses who make mistakes in their work.
As for those guilty of ethical lapses, they will be dismissed, she added.
Many lawmakers told Tien that health officers often treat health insurance holders differently from patients who pay for medical services.
Tien said she was aware of the discrimination, saying it was a matter of medical ethics.
“We’re working to improve the situation, as well as to fix the examination and treatment process so that it will be less troublesome for the people,” she told lawmakers.
Offering bribes or presents to doctors is a practice that has been plaguing the Vietnamese health system over the past years. It has become so common and routine that people do not even recognize it as a corrupt practice that could undermine the health sector.
Experts have pointed out several major reasons for corruption in the health sector.
Overloaded hospitals, time-consuming red tape, low salaries and benefits for staff, commissions paid by pharmaceutical companies for prescribing their medicines, loose law enforcement, and professional incompetence are all factors that foster corruption in the sector.

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