Infant death compensation bill wins approval in Taiwan

Infant death compensation bill wins approval in Taiwan
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The government could soon pay compensation of up to NT$300,000 (S$13,013) after an infant's death due to unforeseen complications during delivery.

A bill for no-fault infant death compensation cleared its first review in Legislative Yuan yesterday and comes into effect if it passes third reading in a plenary session.

The bill, which was authored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, grants compensation of up to NT$300,000 for the accidental death of an infant during delivery.

Families of a mother who dies in a childbirth accident are eligible for up to NT$2 million. Infants or mothers who suffer a disability caused by a delivery accident can file for up to NT$1.5 million.

The bill covers infants who are at least 33 weeks old at delivery; it does not cover death or disability caused by medical negligence.

Compensation is paid only for damages due to unforeseen complications such as amniotic fluid embolism or postpartum hemorrhage.

Pilot Study

The bill submitted to the floor yesterday is based on a three-year pilot study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

As of October, 174 families have used the pilot programme to win a combined NT$170 million paid out from the Health Ministry's medical development budget.

The bill submitted yesterday extends coverage of the pilot programme from infants aged 36 weeks old and older to infants who are at least 33 weeks old.

If the bill passes third reading, compensation will be paid from a dedicated budget supported by the health and welfare surcharge on tobacco and other sources, said Wang Tsung-hsi, director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare's Department of Medical Affairs.

70 per cent Less Litigation

Over three years, the pilot programme for no-fault infant death compensation had cut medical malpractice suits by 70 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Huang Ming-chao, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said the programme had helped to lift enrollment rates in obstetrics programs.

Huang told reporters that enrollment rate in obstetrics had risen from 74 per cent in 2012 to 94 per cent this year.

Physicians' fear of facing the heavy litigation in the field had previously made it "very difficult" to recruit and retain talent, he said.

An Earmark for Glasses

Also yesterday, the Legislature gave the preliminary approval to a NT$3.5 million budget for research and development on a little-explored solution for preventing nearsightedness.

If the budget passes third reading in Legislature, NT$3.5 million will go to support a one-year research and development project on eyeglasses that block blue light, which could prevent eye problems including myopia.

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