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Medical disciplinary board established

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten now has its own Medical Disciplinary Board (MDB).

The board was established as of January 7 after a year and a half of discussions and preparatory legal work by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs VSA.

The MDB will evaluate complex cases in which medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists and/or nurses are involved and may take disciplinary measures against the medical professional. These may vary from a warning or suspension to a permanent prohibition against exercising official duties, Inspector General Dr. Earl Best said in a statement late last night.

The cases usually involve suspected malpractice and/or medical fraud and can be submitted to the MDB by the Inspectorate or directly by a patient or family member. Every case presented to the MDB needs to be substantiated and properly documented.

Best said, "Because of the small amount of cases brought forward, the limited amount of available medical professionals to become a member and the experience needed to evaluate a case properly it was decided to use the pre-existing Netherlands Antilles MDB, now Curaçao MDB, but as a legal St. Maarten entity extended with St. Maarten members." MDB sessions on local cases will be held in St. Maarten.

The MDB is chaired by Judge Lia van Gastel of the Common Court of Justice and consists of four permanent members – two doctors, a dentist and a pharmacist – and six substitute members. General practitioner Dr. Grace Spencer and pharmacist Natasha Carty have been nominated as St. Maarten's members.

"The Ministry VSA continues its efforts to improve the health care sector by introducing updated and/or new legislation, by developing policy, by enforcing regulations and legislation, by supporting health care institutions and by establishing proper operational and regulatory mechanisms in the sector," Best said.

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