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Medical Lawyer South Africa

Instances of Malpractice and Proposed Legislative Changes in South Africa

Medical malpractice is when a patient suffers injury and damage as the direct result of sub-standard care or the lack of care provided by a healthcare professional or the employees of a hospital. If you suspect that you have been a victim of such malpractice in South Africa, it is imperative to seek legal guidance from a medical lawyer.

Instances of malpractice include the disclosure of patient information without the patient’s consent, breach of the duty of care, treatment without the proper consent from the patient or the guardian where relevant, failure to provide a reasonable standard of care, and providing unnecessary medication, as well as misdiagnosis.

Unless, however, the patient suffers damage as the result of the above, it is not medical malpractice. It is best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer specialising in South African medical law to determine the merits of a particular case before proceeding with further action against the practitioner or hospital.

It is also essential to take legal action against the correct party. In the case of injury because of equipment failure, the manufacturer of the equipment can be held accountable. However, the hospital can also be held accountable for not maintaining the equipment. Where the injury is the result of misdiagnosis, it is important to determine whether the practitioner followed correct procedure in diagnosing the patient.

Where the healthcare professional fails to refer the patient to a specialist and the treatment given leads to injury, it can be malpractice. It is, however, important to consider factors as directly related to the specific case in determining whether it is malpractice. An experienced medical lawyer in South Africa can help to assess the merits of a particular case. In such an instance, the expertise of medical specialists can also be sought.

Possible Changes Regarding Malpractice Claims Against State Hospitals

With the State Public Liability Amendment Bill (2018) tabled for public comment, it is just a matter of time before it comes into effect. Once it is in effect, there will be a limitation on the amount for which the victim can claim if the injury was sustained in a state hospital. It is thus imperative to seek legal guidance immediately if you suspect that your injuries are the direct result of the action or lack thereof by a medical practitioner or the personnel of a hospital in South Africa.

The bill proposes a cap on amounts that can be claimed for injuries. In addition, the bill proposes the settling of claims over R1 million through structured payments instead of lump sum payments. The bill, furthermore, proposes that patients seek post-injury care at public healthcare establishments. Should the proposed amendments be passed, it will leave victims of medical malpractice no other choice than to seek treatment at the very same state hospitals where they received substandard treatment.

Victims of private healthcare malpractice still have the normal legal recourse for seeking compensation. It is, however, recommended to make use of an experienced medical lawyer in South Africa to ensure the best possible outcome. Call Adele van der Walt Incorporated for assistance and legal guidance today.

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 – August 2019.

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