oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Can private obstetric care be saved in South Africa?



This article examines the question of whether private obstetric care in South Africa (SA) can be saved in view of the escalation in medical and legal costs brought about by a dramatic increase in medical negligence litigation. This question is assessed with reference to applicable medical and legal approaches. The crux of the matter is essentially a question of affordability. From a medical perspective, it seems that the English system (as articulated by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) as well as American perspectives may be well suited to the SA situation. Legal approaches are assessed in the context of the applicable medico-legal framework in SA, the present nature of damages and compensation with reference to obstetric negligence liability, as well as alternative options (no-fault and capping of damages) to the present system based on fault. It is argued, depending on constitutional considerations, that a system of damages caps for non-economic damages seems to be the most appropriate and legally less invasive system in conjunction with the establishment of a state excess insurance fund.


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