Tag archives: Medical malpractice

Extinction of liability for medical malpractice by prescription

Chapter III of the Prescription Act, 1969 deals with the extinction of debts by prescription.  But how does this relate to personal injury cases? Most claims for damages prescribe in three years, but prescription does not run against minors (people under the age of 18), those with severe mental and intellectual disabilities, or those under … Continue reading

HPCSA – primary guardian of morals of the health profession

On 15 January 2021 the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a judgment which pronounced on the jurisdiction of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a medical malpractice watchdog and the primary guardian of morals of the health profession. The judgment confirmed that the HPCSA’s jurisdiction is not limited to the conduct … Continue reading

Evidence to establish negligence of surgeon

The case of Felicia Meyers v MEC, Department of Health, Eastern Cape deals with the evidence required to give rise to an inference of negligence on the part of an operating surgeon as to whether the injury caused in the course of the operation resulted from negligence (the failure to apply the professional skill and … Continue reading

Medical malpractice: A USA birth injury comparison

South African healthcare practitioners and insurers may take some comfort (on the basis that the grass is not greener) from the jury verdict of an Illinois, US Court in a medical malpractice claim against the West Suburban Medical Center and others. The jury awarded a record US$100.6 million damages against the hospital in respect of brain … Continue reading

Expert evidence

Parties to any dispute who rely exclusively on opinions of experts without establishing the factual basis for those opinions do so at their peril. The opinion of an expert must be based on facts that are established by the evidence. The court then assesses the opinions of experts on the basis of ‘whether and to … Continue reading

Personalised medicine and medical malpractice

Personalised medicine involves the consideration of health risk factors and genetic information to determine individual risk profiles. This customisation of healthcare uses medical decisions, practices, treatments, and products that are tailor-made to an individual’s requirements, and is based on hereditary profile. This could result in quicker diagnosis and a more targeted form of treatment for … Continue reading

Hospital receptionists owe duty to inform patients accurately regarding available medical assistance

A judgment of the English Court of Appeal which we called ‘bizarre’ and ‘peculiar’ has been predictably overturned by the UK Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found that the hospital run by the NHS Trust is liable to a patient with a head injury who had been given misinformation by the hospital receptionist that he … Continue reading

Law Commission report on medico-legal claims for comment by 30 September 2017

The South African Law Reform Commission has issued a lengthy paper on the investigations into medico-legal claims with proposals for the reform of the law in connection with those claims. The paper discusses the current situation and the legal principles underlying claims for damages for medical negligence, state liability, the basis for payment of compensation … Continue reading

Doctor/Patient confidentiality and failure to disclose genetic risk of Huntington’s Disease (UK)

A pregnant woman in the UK has sued a hospital and mental facility for failing to inform her that she had, through her father, a high risk of suffering from Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s Disease is a hereditary condition causing damage to the brain cells, giving rise to disruption of movement, cognition and personality change and … Continue reading

Exclusion for medical services in a medical malpractice claim (US)

Over a 150 patients claimed damages against a hospital because of an outbreak of fungal meningitis and related infections which resulted from the patients receiving injections with contaminated substances. The court held that there was no claim under the insurer’s commercial package policy based on personal injury claims because the policies excluded bodily injury ‘due … Continue reading

The importance of preserving medical records

The judgment in Khoza v MEC for Health and Social Development, Gauteng re-emphasises the utmost importance of maintaining and preserving all hospital and medical records in the original state. This was a cerebral palsy claim for brain damage sustained during a birth at a provincial hospital. The CTG records had gone missing without any explanation. … Continue reading

Doctors, mind your Ps and Qs

Damages were sought and awarded by a court in Virginia, USA against an anaesthesiologist and her practice after the attending doctors were caught on tape mocking a patient while he was sedated during the course of a procedure. Amongst other abuses, the surgical team mocked and insulted the patient and the anaesthesiologist called the patient … Continue reading