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The Evolution of Medical Malpractice Law in South Africa

Neil van Dokkum
Journal of African Law
Vol. 41, No. 2 (1997), pp. 175-191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/745426
Page Count: 17
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The Evolution of Medical Malpractice Law in South Africa
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Abstract

Medical negligence suits in South Africa have not reached the pandemic proportions of the United States, both as regards number and the quantum of damages. This can be partly attributed to the paternalistic approach adopted by the South African courts, much in keeping with their English counterparts. In addition, the South African courts have developed a number of legal devices, mostly evidentiary, which have effectively limited the plaintiff's cause of action. There has however been a recent emphasis on the rights of the patient and the importance of informed consent. The actions of doctors are now under closer scrutiny. This trend has been further strengthened by the Constitution, with its emphasis on individual rights, particularly those of dignity and privacy. Finally, the insertion of a clause in the Constitution regarding the provision of medical services has increased the pressure of numbers on, and patient expectations of, hospitals.

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