The late Rika Pretorius, a lawyer, raised the question of access to medical information, promoting the full disclosure of all medical records on request ('Opinion' South African Medical Journal 1996; 86: 330-332). Pre-empting counter argument, she said, [Even] if the information is meaningless, it still does not justify nondisclosure. If the records are, in fact, meaningless, they cannot harm the patient.'
The year 2000 and implications for information systems Much has been written about the Y2K (the year 2000) problem that looms just 18 months away. Most software programs were written using the date format MM/DD/YY so that computers cannot distinguish between the 20th and 21 st centuries. The problem lies in the way the year is currently kept in computer files . The year is stored as two characters (e g '96') instead of four (e g '1996').
Section 20(1)(d) of the Medical Schemes Act 72 of 1967 states that all medical schemes must provide 'for the continuation, subject to the prescribed conditions, of the membership of a member who retires from the service of his employer or whose employment is terminated by his employer on account of age, ill health or other disability'.
Although liability in non-disclosure cases traditionally rested upon incorrect information, insufficient information or absence of information, a novel and obviously controversial liability for excessive - or over - information has entered the medico-legal picture (FFW Van Oosten 'The doctor 's duty of disclosure and excessive information liability ' (1992) II Medicine and Law 633-639).
With the advent of AIDS and the publicity it receives, blood transfusions have come under the public spotlight. There is some debate in South Africa as to whether blood can be effectively screened. There is no doubt that every attempt has been made to ensure that blood used in transfusions is free of any blood-borne disease and that such blood is available when transfusions are given. It is not the thrust of this article to focus on the dangers or otherwise of taking blood. What once again becomes relevant is the question of whether blood transfusions can be forced on any particular individual. The mailer has previously received the courts' attention, both locally and overseas. because of the stand taken by the followers of Jehovah's Witnesses who, because of their beliefs, refuse to accept blood.