oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Medical negligence : alternative claims resolution an answer to the epidemic? : editorial



The price paid by society because of unreasonable medical negligence claims cannot be ignored. While medical malpractice systems in the country are exorbitantly costly, they are also inefficient. This impacts directly on access to healthcare, a basic human right in the country as enshrined in section 27 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of South Africa (SA). Practising defensive medicine, irrespective of the sector in which healthcare is delivered, has now become the norm, with the focus being not just patient health and best interests, but also that of safeguarding against possible medical malpractice liability, thereby increasing unnecessary clinical and diagnostic procedures. The unequivocal situation is that currently the fear of lawsuits holds hostage practitioners' options and preferences for delivery of ethically exercised care to their patients, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction both to practitioners and patients. Moreover, a culture of blame is also now pervasive.


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