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Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical Malpractice Cases in SA: What Does the Future Hold?

In 2013, an article in the South African Medical Law Journal (SAMJ, Vol. 103, No.7:2013) noted two reasons for the sharp increase in medical malpractice cases in South Africa. The first had to do with the reduced and delayed payouts by the Road Accident Fund (RAF), and the second with the overloaded healthcare system, especially in public hospitals, in addition to inexperienced staff, lack of human resources, faulty equipment and supply shortages.

In January 2014, the Sunday Times published an article titled “Hospital horrors costing South Africa plenty” that reported R420 million worth of malpractice claims at a single state hospital in Gauteng (Sunday Times: 2017). Considering that one of the most common healthcare negligence cases reported at the hospital was cerebral palsy related to brain damage suffered by babies during the birthing process, parents had reason for concern.

Has the situation since then improved?

More recently, the National Treasury announced plans to halt the soaring costs related to medico-legal claims. At the stage, as reported in SA News on 26 February 2020 in the article titled “Plans to curb medico-legal claims,” the costs associated with these came to about R100 billion. The State also considered the State Liability Amendment Bill, which would enable the State to offer compensation in the form of treatment in kind at public healthcare facilities. It would also allow for structured payments to settle claims for compensation in medical malpractice cases against the State. There is ongoing litigation in this regard.

Does this mean you will have no legal recourse if you have suffered injury and damages related to malpractice in future?

No, it does mean that if enacted without revision, there would be limits to payouts in claims and that you might have to settle for care at a public hospital. The legal position is not clear and final yet. It doesn’t mean that you would not be able to bring a claim against a private healthcare professional. It also doesn’t mean that you should accept the injury and no compensation. Before losing hope, consult with Adele van der Walt Incorporated about your legal rights and the correct steps to take in pursuing compensation for injury and damages. The medical law firm has handled many complicated malpractice cases with success.

Get legal help for all types of medical malpractice cases in South Africa

If you or your child suffered an injury, whether at a private or public healthcare facility or through the actions or omission of necessary action by a healthcare professional, schedule an appointment with Adele van der Walt Incorporated to help determine the merits of your case. You will also receive legal guidance on the steps forward, regardless of whether the claim is against a private or public healthcare facility.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Call on our attorneys for legal advice, rather than relying on the information herein to make any decisions. The information is relevant to the date of publishing – Sept 2021.

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