A health ministry panel compiled a report Wednesday recommending that medical safety consultation centers be set up in all prefectures to fight malpractice and mediate between medical institutions and patients.

Based on the report by its medical safety review panel, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it is poised to establish the centers in the next fiscal year and provide subsidies. Among the envisioned duties of the centers will be to provide information on steps to curb malpractice.

Ministry officials said they have already ordered about 600 medical institutions nationwide to set up information desks to deal with malpractice.

The ministry has also decided to order all hospitals to draw up safety guidelines between October and next April. From October, care centers that fail to comply will be punished via cutbacks of funds for medical treatment costs.

Designated prefectural departments will handle the secretariat operations at the centers. Third parties, including doctors and lawyers, will supervise medical centers in resolving malpractice cases.

However, the centers will not intervene in potential lawsuits between the care facilities and patients, they added.

The panel’s report says the government must build up the nation’s care infrastructure to create an environment that promotes medical safety.

It also advocates further education on these issues for health personnel.

Instances of serious medical malpractice continue to hit the headlines. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government independently launched a service last May to provide counseling and advice and saw some 6,000 cases in the six months to November.

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