Medical malpractice reports increasing

2008-07-07 00:00

MORE and more people are reporting incidents of misconduct by medical professionals. Over the last year, the number of complaints increased by 40%, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) said yesterday.

This month alone, the HPCSA will deal with 14 professional conduct inquiries — five of them into KZN doctors. HPCSA spokeswoman Berta Peters-Scheepers told The Witness that although the number of complaints increases every year due to the fact that more people are becoming aware of their rights, the number of complaints that actually reach the final inquiry is showing a decrease.

Peters-Scheepers said the reason for this is that the accused doctors pay fines and avoid the inquiries. She added that there were 652 preliminary cases reported to the council last year, but only 166 were set down for the final inquiry.

“Sometimes a settlement is reached before the inquiry. Other matters are often referred to the ombudsman and they end in arbitration. Last year, the arbitration dealt with 157 matters,” she said.

Peters-Scheepers said that prevalent among the cases reported were those of irregularly-issued sick certificates, miscommunication between the doctors and patients, overcharging, professional jealousy among practitioners, failure to write reports on Road Accident Fund submissions, incompetence, treatment of deceased people and medicine prescription.

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