The Japan Medical Association will establish a system to insure doctors against medical accidents to help them cope with soaring amounts of compensation being demanded in malpractice suits.

The JMA’s board of representatives will ask doctors and medical institutions to become policyholders of the new insurance, which will pay out up to 200 million yen in medical accident cases.

This is in addition to current insurance policies, which already pay up to 100 million yen, JMA officials said Sunday.

In a number of recent malpractice cases, compensation has exceeded 100 million yen, far beyond the finances of many hospitals and clinics, the association said.

The target beneficiaries of the new policy are clinics and hospitals with less than 100 beds, and their founders and managers, it said. They will be covered in cases where their doctors make unintentional medical errors.

The upper limits of the policy will be 200 million yen per accident, with a maximum of 600 million yen per year for each policyholder.

While insurance payouts for hospital founders can be limited in some cases under the current scheme, that will not happen under the new policy.

About 400 medical accidents were investigated under the current insurance scheme in fiscal 2000, according to the association, although payment details were not made available.

Eitaka Tsuboi, head of the association, said medical accidents were caused by doctors who lack a sense of “mission” or the requisite moral fiber.

Tsuboi stressed the importance of nurturing decent morals among doctors, as well as developing safe medical tools and procedures.

Malpractice cases have been rising in recent years.

According to the association’s survey of some 700 hospitals in 1999, medical accidents and reports of mistakes totaled about 78,900 cases.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will start a project to promote safety measures in medical institutions with an appropriation of about 440 million yen from the budget for the new fiscal year.

The association has also held training sessions and seminars for doctors and other medical staff in a bid to promote safety measures.

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