Why does Barbados have a “low risk of liability” for doctors?

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What does “low risk of liability” for doctors mean for medical patients?

Dear Barbados Free Press,

I saw in the news the other day that the Barbados government is partnering with an American company to build new medical tourism facilities on the site of the St. Joseph Hospital. The news story and the press release sound like this could be an opportunity for Barbados but only if enough investors and medical professionals come on board.

The American World Clinics website is straightforward saying that Barbados is the company’s first project, and lists many reasons why Barbados would be a good place for medical professionals and to build a medical tourism industry. One of the listed reasons puzzles me though…

The American World Clinics press release and the website say that Barbados is a good place for medical professionals because “Barbados is friendly for medical practice and features low risk of liability…”

What does this “low risk of liability” mean, exactly?

We know it takes ten and fifteen years for civil lawsuits to be heard in our court system. What about medical malpractice lawsuits? Would a medical malpractice lawsuit take ten or fifteen years to resolve in the Barbados courts? If the Barbados government is a partner with American World Clinics, can a patient rely upon the Barbados government and the courts in a dispute?

The question that really needs answering is “If Barbados features ‘low risk of liability’ for physicians, does that mean it features a higher risk for international medical tourism patients?”

Also I would like to know about the medical certification procedures in Barbados and what body will oversee the clinics to ensure that compliance with medical standards is acceptable? What are the medical standards in Barbados?

Yours truly,

(name withheld by BFP)

Further Reading

This comes from the American World Clinics website…

Why Barbados?

A Friendly Place to Practice

Barbados is friendly for medical practice and features low risk of liability, adequate infrastructure and support for development of the international medical sector. In addition:

There is interest amongst leading Barbados physicians in new hospital facilities and an expressed willingness to collaborate with AWC on the development of an international medical center.
Barbados has a medical school and nursing schools (UWI Cave Hill Campus for Medicine), resources for well-trained allied staff.
A Friendly Place to Live

Barbados is approximately 1,300 miles southeast of Miami, with direct flights from many U.S. East Coast, Canadian, U.K. and European cities. In addition to its mild climate and stunning landscape, visitors and residents appreciate many things about life in Barbados, including:

No language barrier
Stable government
Friendly people
Personal safety
Excellent tourism amenities
Range of residential price points


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Consumer Issues, Health

13 responses to “Why does Barbados have a “low risk of liability” for doctors?

  1. Johnny Postle

    Well what more proof do you need than this. That professional and business persons do not have to worry about the risks associated with certain practices that are not conducive to professional conduct because the system that exists in Barbados has a protective element the status quo possee.

  2. Johnny Postle

    last line should be….has a protective element for the status quo possee

  3. Low risk of liability

    cosmetic surgery and a rest so people can’t see the scars

  4. yatinkiteasy

    It really means that lawyers in Barbados do not take on medical malpractice cases.Plus, cases are settled out of court.

  5. Waiting on grandmother's will to be settled since 1995

    yatinkiteasy: “Plus, cases are settled out of court.”
    Court? What court? Barbados have a court system? When did that start back? *grin*

  6. Johnny Postle

    There is court system but it only works when there is nothing at stake

  7. Observer

    I lost a very close family member because of gross clinical negligence in the ICU at the QEH. The notes were lost, indirect threats were made and nothing has come out of the case. I was recently told by my doctor that new laws passed prevent her from reporting/ squealing on one of her colleagues that has been medically negligent. If she dared to she can be hauled before the medical council for disciplinary actions. What a sad state of affairs,.

  8. J. Payne

    Just uploaded by Invest Barbados…
    “Barbados-A Health & Wellness Solution — Medical Tourism and Health and Wellness Tourism are just two Barbados’ offerings to a world that is overworked, under-nourished and stressed out.”

  9. Commander

    ………..Commander ……………

    “Low liability”, stems not from not being liable, but from :

    1/ Less claims made here vs a litigious place like the USA.

    2/ Lawsuits here can cost less.

    3/ Damages awarded in Barbados do not compare at all to those in the USA.

    4/ Our lower suit rate is also due to the difficulty of the common man in getting certain things done legally. A case is expensive to start with and if you survive long enough financially to win your case there is no promise that the judge will award you costs. There is also no guarantee that if awarded, the ‘costs’ will actually equal your costs. As a result it also means that unlike in the USA, lawyers here rarely take up cases on contingency (I think that is what it is called) where their fee is agreed with the plaintiff at the beginning to be a percentage of the awarded winnings otherwise the lawyer works for free or a small fee if the case is lost.

    In my experience though, the patients and relatives who have good cases that they could sue or push for a settlement often do not, but Medical Council, the Ministry of Health, BAMP and the QEH are faced with nonsense complaints and suits that have no proper basis or proof quite regularly. This probably also affects the liability level. If persons in Barbados and their lawyers had the sense to not only go after the docs when something goes wrong they would do better in court. Docs are frequently accused for problems caused by things not within their control and after money is wasted on Lawyers on both sides the Doc is exonerated, unless he/she settles to save time and money. But yet the public does not realize that they may have had an airtight case against the individual who neglected to service the particular equipment or broke the CT scan or went home on a long weekend and did not bother to order oxygen for the in-patients ………….. (I saw this myself).

  10. 205

    The legal system here is the root of all failings in civil society in Barbados. If a law exists, it is usually not enforced, especially if it could be used against the legal or medical profession. The US system is a case of lawyers gone mad…..the cost of malpractice insurance is so high that in California, for instance, insurance for an early career OB/GYN practitioner is over 100,000 US annually. The minute a lawsuit goes against, you either cannot get another policy or the deductible on a new policy is over 100k. (from the Economist magazine)
    In Barbados, points no. 2 and 3 made by Commander are most likely the rationale for allowing elective cosmetic surgery to be done here. You may get sued for a bad result, but it won’t break the bank.


    Try to be objective when contemplating the meaning of this statement. I am an emergency physician working in the USA and what should be apparent to many who are privy to the culture in America, is that it is a very litigious society. We all as physicians long for an environment to practice medicine the way we were taught, without having every decision that we make critiqued in retrospect. Medicine is not an exact science. That’s why its called “The practice of medicine. A great many doctors in America practice “Defensive Medicine”, making medical decisions after consulting their “Attorney conscience” and so unnecessary tests such as CT scans, x-rays and blood tests are ordered way too often. They know it when they order it but are afraid of missing anything. In the courts no medical professional is ever chosen to be on the jury so one can be sure that a skilled attorney will be able to convince them that the sun is the moon. That is what the statement means to me.

  12. Mark Fenty

    Doctor, what you have fail to inform the read about, is your malpractice insurance the covers your colossal incompetence. Yes I agree the America is a litigious society, but we need it when we have doctors prescribing the wrong medication for their patients, and some amputating the wrong limbs.


    I don’t know about the current malpractice environment in Barbados except that it is a mere shadow anywhere else in the world compared to what it is here. I do not challenge anyone on what is going on in Barbados because when I was living there in the 70s and 80s, my aunt was a nurse at the QEH. She would come home with stories about the gross incompetence of some of the doctors. Even after I left, I would hear from a doctor about another one who would call the spouse at home (who was another doctor) to ask advice about how to manage a patient. The malpractice here is not high because of gross incompetence, but rather because there is no process for weeding out frivolous lawsuits. It may surprise you to know (or it may not) that if I want to bring suit against a doctor, all I need is some unscrupulous attorney to do so. As long as it is within 3 years of the said offense (depending on which state). A formal inquiry will take place including depositions followed by discovery to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed further. Even if the case is dismissed at this time, that legal action follows the doctor around log stink on dog poop for the entire career. Now imagine this happening repeatedly.

    For comparison I offer you this. If you are involved in a car accident 10 times in 10 years and each time you were rear ended by the other vehicle, then undoubtedly the fault, barring extenuating circumstances will be attributed to the vehicle striking yours. But insurance companies don’t operate in such a manner. They WILL counter that since you find yourself in such a predicament frequently, that you are now a risk and your premiums will also be raised, through no real fault of your own. This is what happens here. When anyone is allowed to bring suit, even if eventually dismissed, they all count and they count mostly for that particular physician but also affects the profession as a whole, because the insurance companies know that its open season on us. So until change occurs where cases dismissed do not follow us around ….!