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Hospital Malpractice

When Is It Hospital Malpractice and Where To Go for Help?

Hospital malpractice refers to incidents where the healthcare professionals of a care facility provide sub-standard care that leads to patient injury.

The sub-standard or negligent care must be provided in the hospital as opposed to after-care at the patient’s home or medical services at a doctor outside the medical facility. For it to be malpractice, the following requirements must be met:

  • The lack of care, sub-standard healthcare, action or lack thereof must be the direct cause of the harm that the patient suffers.
  • A duty of care must exist, meaning there must be a healthcare professional and patient relationship.
  • The patient must suffer injury or have their injury increased because of the negligence from the staff.

What is meant with sub-standard care?

It means the medical care is not on standard in relation to what can reasonably be expected from healthcare professionals in a similar field, with the same level of professional experience and qualifications, faced with the same medical situation or treatment requirements.

Who is seen as the hospital staff members?

From the nurses to the doctors, pharmacists and related healthcare professionals working in the facility and tasked with the care of the patient are all staff members. Unlike with a general practice where the doctor is responsible for the care of the patient, in a hospital setting it is possible that more than one person can be held accountable for patient care.

Determining who is at fault and who can be held responsible for the injury and damages that a patient incurs, is essential. Faulty equipment, lack of proper facilities and essential supplies, lack of supervision and negligent management can also contribute to patient injury. With the hospital being the employer, it can be difficult to determine against whom legal action must be taken. To this end, it is best to seek legal guidance right from the moment you suspect malpractice to ensure legal action is taken against the relevant party or parties. Visit our FAQ section for answers on your questions related to healthcare negligence.

Types of negligence

From misdiagnosis to the lack of care can cause the patient to suffer injury. Examples range from medical equipment left in the patient during surgery to non-treatment that leads to the patient’s death. Injuries at birth can often be contributed to sub-standard care given during the delivery of the baby. Staff incompetence can lead to administering the wrong medication or incorrect administration. Negligence by the management to protect patients against the spreading of potentially fatal infections can also cause patient injury. Unnecessary invasive procedures, lack of informed consent, over-billing, and more are also examples.

Watch this video from Special Assignment for examples of injuries related to hospital malpractice in South Africa.

What to do if you suspect you are a victim of hospital malpractice

Don’t delay in seeking guidance from an experienced and reputable medical law attorney. Turn to Adele van der Walt Incorporated for legal help in South Africa.

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 – July 2021.

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