On Air Feature

Should medical malpractice claims be standardised?

Date: Aug 21, 2017

Gauteng Health Department takes to Constitutional Court to seek reprieve from paying out more than 13 billion rand owed to litigants

An expert says the department of health should consider standardizing the payment of claims relating to negligence and medical malpractice by doctors and nurses at public institutions, if it is to minimise legal costs. The Gauteng Health Department has taken to the Constitutional Court to seek reprieve from paying out more than 13 billion rand owed to litigants. It says paying out all outstanding claims immediately, will bring the province's health service delivery programmes to a halt because of budget constraints. Treasury allocates R40 billion to the department annually. Now the department is arguing in court, that there is no clear provision in the law that prevents it from paying claimants in installments. 

The national minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has also raised a red flag over the exorbitant fees charged by lawyers whom he says are at times unscrupulous. Associate Professor and Head of Programme of Bio & research Ethics and Medical Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Sylvester Chima says the department must apply a system similar to what the Road Accident Fund is now using. Stephen Kirker spoke to Chima who says dealing directly with the litigants will help the department reduce legal costs.

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