The National Health Security Office (NHSO) is being urged to amend Section 41 of the universal health care law to allow compensation payments to women who become pregnant despite having been sterilised.
The moves comes after a spike in the number of people claiming to be victims of sterilisation procedures that did not work.
The office responsible for making judgements on how to allocate the universal health care budget held a special “policy dialogue” session on Monday to thrash out the issue.
The NHSO is considering whether botched sterilisations and wrongful pregnancies should be subject for compensation under Section 41 of the 2002 National Health Security Act.
The section says patients under the scheme are entitled to damages for medical errors as a result of medical treatment.
But the NHSO amended another regulation in 2012 dealing with people who suffer harm as a result of vaccinations and other health services.
Sterilisation is considered a health promotion service but it is not protected by Section 41.
The NHSO has shelled out a total of 42.87 million baht to claimants over the last decade.
Since 2006, 738 individuals have lodged complaints about ineffective sterilisations while 54 have claimed damages after using temporary birth-control methods that failed.
Some NHSO board members believe those women are entitled to compensation because they can only be sterilised by doctors now.
Among them are Saree Ongsomwang and Supatra Nakhaphiew, who represent the civic sector. They insist the function of Section 41 is to rehabilitate patients and say the law should be amended to include health promotion services.
“Mishaps do occur in the health service system and nobody is at fault. But when damage is done, assistance should be provided. We’re on the right path,” said Ms Supatra.
Methi Wongsirisuwan, member of the Medical Council, said the law does not sanction payments to victims of botched sterilisations so changes would be needed. He said a number of problems could arise if compensation claims for failed medical services are authorised.
Meanwhile, a sub-committee has ruled the claim did not meet the condition but agreed to pay a certain amount for humanitarian reasons. “That patient sued for full compensation,” said Dr Methi, adding that a line must be drawn between humanitarian gestures and medical errors.
Assoc Prof Annop Jaisamrang, from the Royal Thai College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists, said the faulty sterilisations could be medical errors because figures showing the failure rate of female sterilisations are low at 0.2-2 cases for every 1,000.
Thirasak Khatawanich, chairman of a sub-committee reviewing compensation payments in Lamphun, threw his support behind the move.
He said the sub-committee agreed to pay 100,000 baht in one case and the amount was “not much”. He added low-income earners should get full compensation.
Chatree Bancheun, chairman of the committee on quality and standard control attached to the NHSO, said a committee will be set up to determine if failed sterilisations should be treated as medical misadventure and if an investigation process should be launched to find those responsible, she said. The findings will be submitted to the NHSO board.