n South African Medical Journal - Medicine and the law - Is it ever justified for doctors to sue their patients whose allegations against them have been dismissed by the courts or the Health Professions Council of South Africa? : forum

Volume 105, Issue 12
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Doctors should be cautious about suing their patients, because it may generate bad publicity. Where a criminal or civil case or complaint to the Health Professions Council of South Africa by a patient about a doctor's professional conduct is withdrawn or dismissed, a doctor may only sue the patient for defamation if it can be proved that the patient acted from malice, spite or an improper motive. Doctors may only sue patients for malicious prosecution or abuse of civil proceedings if such patients acted with 'malice' and 'without reasonable and probable cause'. If a doctor successfully defends a case against a patient, the court will usually order the patient to pay the doctor's costs.

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