News24

Report medical malpractice - council

2012-03-19 16:16

Pretoria - A nationwide campaign urging people to report improper conduct by medical practitioners was announced on Monday.

Unveiling the drive in Pretoria, Health Professions Council of SA acting registrar Kgosi Letlape said patients often did not know the full extent of their rights.

"Patients have the right to refuse treatment. After being consulted on the medication a patient can refuse to take the treatment but that does not mean they should be thrown out of the hospital," he said.

The National Patients Rights Charter states that a person may refuse treatment, verbally or in writing, provided that their refusal does not endanger the health of others.

Among other rights, the charter also states that everyone has the right to be given full, accurate information about the nature of their illness, diagnostic procedures, the proposed treatment and the risks associated with it, and the costs involved.

Rise in complaints

Letlape said the council was worried by a rise in complaints about the settlement of patient accounts and "improper relations" between patients and medical staff.

"Improper relations range from practitioners touching patients in a sexual manner [to] sexual innuendos and other related violations of patients," Letlape told reporters.

Letlape said patients needed to understand that they were responsible for their own health while health practitioners were responsible for the care given.

He said claims of clinical negligence often reached the council. Other complaints related to incompetence, over-charging, and charging for services not rendered.

"This campaign... may reveal some unethical practices and lead to an increase to the statistics we currently have."

Letlape said the council was advocating the introduction of re-certification of all practitioners in the country, in line with international best practice.

Free of charge

The council is mandated to protect the public and to guide healthcare practitioners to ensure high standards of professionalism. It also regulates health professions with regards to registration, education, training and practice.

The lodging of written complaints with the council is free of charge.

The public can complain about breaches of standards which include unethical advertising, criminal convictions of medical practitioners, insufficient patient care, racial discrimination and breaches in confidentiality.

The campaign was launched shortly before Human Rights Day on March 21 and commemorates the 35th anniversary of Steve Biko's death in incarceration and the improper conduct of two attending physicians, said Letlape.

HPCSA president Sam Mokgokong said Nyunyi Wambuyi Katumba's licence for practising in the country had been withdrawn by the council.

Katumba, a Congolese general practitioner, had worked as a neurosurgeon at different hospitals in South Africa after presenting bogus credentials which he had obtained through collusion with the council's insiders.

Mokgokong said though the awareness campaign was expected to spark an increase in the volumes of complaints against healthcare practitioners in general, most complaints were expected to come from people who use private sector facilities.

"Most public institutions have their own internal processes of dealing with complaints. The complaints are often addressed at the hospitals and the clients often do not take the matters [up] with us," he said.

Comments
  • Deon - 2012-03-19 16:36

    Asking a patient to pay outstanding accounts is not improper conduct.

  • Mike - 2012-03-19 16:41

    Is the HPCSA any more serious about taking action against negligent doctors, or is there "nationwide campaign urging people to report improper conduct by medical practitioners" just the usual SA political spin to protect their own ass for legitimising unqualified quacks? In the history of the HPCSA, almost zero doctors have ever been disbarred in South Africa - despite hundreds of imports whose qualifications are more than questionable. Even more widespread, are the thousands of practitioners who misdiagnose tens of thousands of patients on a daily basis, botch surgeries, yet still demand payment above tariff from patients and medical schemes. Apparently we are to blame for the "God complex" of medical practitioners, by mistakenly elevating "dokters, predikante en onderwysers" to a lofty moral pedestal way above their money-grubbing and involuntary fondling ways. Despite claims of poverty, most general practitioners and dentists have expensive lifestyles to maintain - with specialists and anaesthetists trotting the globe while back at home, patients have to accept their miserable track records. No matter what the symptoms, each specialist will find a way of explaining the symptoms within his own limited scope of expertise - despite clear signs to the contrary - often recommend surgery. In spite of the "managed care" of more than 50 medical schemes, nowhere can the consumer find any statistics on the outcomes, pricing and quality of 'health professionals'. Pot luck?

      Pietertjie - 2012-03-19 17:18

      Misdiagnosis has never been seen as being negligent Mike!!

  • Dumakazi Mapatwana - 2012-03-19 17:10

    And the Drs that are abused by patients? Where do they report to?

      Sinabo Mnqonywa - 2012-03-19 18:53

      You can ask that again... The HPCSA is supposed to be looking out for all people registered in the various councils that form the HPCSA , yet if you look at our working conditions , you are shocked beyond measure... Never mind the council fees that are paid to ensure that they look after us....

      Sandra Murphy - 2012-03-19 20:32

      Good point ! where do we complain. And if doctors think their council fees are high have a look at the psychologist ffes for 2012. The highest of all practitioners registered with the HPCSA

  • sean.redmond3 - 2012-03-19 17:53

    Where, and to whom do we report misgoverning?

  • Sinabo Mnqonywa - 2012-03-19 18:46

    Often I see the department of health and various other health professions council advocating for patients rights but I'm yet to see a campaign to advocate for the rights of medical and nursing staff. But they are quick to notice when we leave the public sector or when we leave the country... The scales need to be balanced.

  • nicky.rains - 2012-03-19 22:53

    It is indeed demoralising when recertification of doctors needs to be considered. We spent our school and university youth buried in textbooks, repaid student loans for 6 years of full time study and worked tirelessly in abysmal working conditions for a pittance during our internship followed by community service and are expected to prove our commitment by spending what little spare time we have attending CPD meetings to comply with HPCSA auditing.

  • Christina-Giancarlo - 2012-03-20 15:06

    Christine. My husband is a cancer patient at Steve Biko,he is wearing a stoma bag, the personel refuses to wash him,(I know it is a bit smelly). BUT WHY DID THEY TAKE THE OUTH TO HELP SICK PEOPLE? On Saturday night his drip came out and after the 7th time that he rand the bell they just removed it and through over the drip stand saying WE ARE COMING know. It was replaced by the day staff. WHERE DO I REPORT THIS,

      nicky.rains - 2012-04-12 13:06

      Start with reporting to the matron and Hospital manager and if the response isn't satisfactory then report to the nursing council.

  • Gretchen Nicole Gardiner - 2015-03-03 18:59

    What about the very stupid people, who give you anti-biotics and say that they are for pain. Diagnose you with a Upper respiratory infection only to land up in hospital later that evening with a almost fatal case of myocarditis and the doctor at the hospital is adamant that you don't have any respiratory tract infections. What about when you complain to the facilities manager about employing incompetent staff, you get sent home and told that you have no right to insult their highly educated staff. Sister Cecil Adams, working for Ambiotion 24 hours at Grassy Park Community Clinic, should be charged with attempted murder. And the manager of the hospital who refused to take action to help a patient suffering with severe chest pain who later died should be fired from her post. All we want is nurser and doctors who actually know how to help people .

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