Medical Ethics In South Africa
As with almost everything in today’s world, the world of medicine is monitored and regulated so that patients are treated according to a certain standard. Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgements to the practice of medicine.
Different medical ethics are applied all over the world. The ethics may differ between the Western medical world and its Eastern counterpart, and also between the various countries. The values that commonly apply to medical ethics in South Africa include:
- Autonomy: the patient has the right to refuse or choose their treatment.
- Beneficence: a practitioner should act in the best interest of the patient.
- Nonmaleficence: “first, do no harm”.
- Justice: concerns the distribution of scare health resources, and the decision of who gets what treatment.
- Dignity: the patient (and the person treating the patient) has the right to dignity.
- Truthfulness and honesty: the concept of informed consent has increased in importance since major historical events that played a major role.
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is the governing body which sets out the medical ethics in South Africa, to which each and every healthcare practitioner must adhere to. The HPCSA was founded for public protection and professional guidance. It is a statutory body, established in terms of the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974. The HPCSA, together with the twelve professional Boards that operate under its jurisdiction, is committed to:
- Promoting the health of South Africa’s population.
- Setting and maintaining fair standards of professional practice.
- Determining standards of professional education and training.
The HPCSA may establish disciplinary committees/professional conduct committees to which it will delegate the power to institute an inquiry into any complaint.
If you would like to know more about medical ethics in South Africa, contact Adele van der Walt Incorporated for professional legal advice.