KUALA LUMPUR: A former senior judge wants the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) to ensure that their members are competent doctors.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said incompetent doctors were like a loose "James Bond with a licence to kill".
"I am given to understand that there are some among you, especially from the local universities, who do not know how to even perform an appendectomy.
"They nevertheless carry licences to treat patients.
"It is my earnest plea to you not to allow them to become 'James Bonds with a licence to kill'," he said in his plenary address at the 2nd FPMPAM/IPH annual conference here Sunday (Sept 16).
Sri Ram warned that if this were to happen, "the law will rise to meet that challenge and you cannot then blame the court for looking over your shoulder".
FPMPAM is the national body representing doctors in private practice in Malaysia. Founded in 1989, it consists of seven state-level associations and has over 5,000 members.
On the topic of his address - "has the law forced doctors to practise defensive medicine" - Sri Ram said presently, that was not the case.
Therefore, he said, doctors need not worry.
"The lawyer is no longer in your backyard. But this does not entitle the medical profession to take a laid-back attitude to diagnosis and treatment," he said.
Sri Ram added that when doctors decided upon a course of treatment, surgical or through the administration of drugs, they were bound to advise their patients on the specific risks of the course of the treatment.
He said if this was not done and problems occur, they could be liable for negligence.