Medical Negligence in South Africa Explained | Legal Articles


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Medical Negligence in South Africa Explained

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when a patient suffers unforeseen negative consequences that could have been avoided by a medical practitioner.

According to the law in South Africa, the injury suffered by a patient must be as a direct result of a medical practitioner’s action or inaction. In other words, when a medical practitioner deviates from standard procedure and damages occur to the patient, medical negligence is present.

However, in cases where a medical practitioner followed the correct and necessary procedures, and the patient suffered negative consequences, medical negligence cannot be claimed.

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Examples of Medical Negligence

The following are examples of medical negligence:

  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
  • Surgical errors or incorrect site surgery
  • Poor follow-up or aftercare
  • Premature discharge
  • Disregarding patient history
  • Not collecting adequate patient history
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Incorrect diagnosis

What Can You Claim For?

If your claim is successful, you can claim for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Past and future medical expenses including surgery expenses
  • Cost of professional care, or care carried out by friends or family
  • Loss of past and future income
  • Loss of life expectancy

It’s important to note that medical negligence cannot be claimed if unforeseen consequences arise from unavoidable treatment. Additionally, if a medical practitioner performs their tasks and carries out treatment to the best of their ability, they cannot be held liable for damages caused by an unknown source. In other words, if the medical practitioner could in no way predict or have any knowledge that damages would come from treatment or lack thereof, they cannot be held liable.

Patients must also be aware of their personal role and responsibilities. Patients have an obligation to be meticulous in doing what they are instructed to do by the medical practitioner. Failure to do so, means that they will not be able to claim medical negligence.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Medical Negligence Attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg

There are a number of factors that will contribute to a successful or unsuccessful medical negligence claim. Our attorneys in Johannesburg and Cape Town can assess your claim and all its facts to establish if compensation will be possible.

In our next article, we will discuss the medical negligence claim procedure in South Africa. This process must be followed meticulously in order to successfully claim for medical negligence.

Contact our attorneys to find out more.

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