Medical Negligence

When entering into a doctor-patient relationship, the patient has certain rights and the doctor has certain duties and obligations. Every patient has the right to informed consent regarding their specific treatment options, surgical options, and the risks and benefits of any proposed treatment, as well as the right to reasonable care. Every doctor owes a duty of care to his/ her patients to ensure that the patient receives the standard of care to which he/ she is entitled.

WHEN CAN YOU CLAIM?

When a medical practitioner's care does not meet the accepted standard of practice, and this failure results in injury or loss to a patient, this may give rise to a potential medical negligence claim.

EXAMPLES OF WHEN A NEGLIGENCE CLAIM MAY ARISE:

  • Misdiagnosis of / failure to diagnose a medical condition
  • Failure to correctly interpret and diagnose congenital abnormalities in a foetus
  • Failure to address complications during the labour and birth process
  • Delays in appropriate treatment and/ or intervention
  • Failure to correctly interpret x-rays, MRI scans or CT scans
  • Unnecessary surgical procedures
  • Inadequate post-operative care leading to complications
  • Lack of informed consent

WHAT CAN YOU CLAIM?

Even if a medical practitioner is found to have delivered sub-standard care in the circumstances, this will not give rise to a claim unless the patient can prove that actual damages were suffered as a result. Patients can sue for:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • mental and emotional trauma/ anguish
  • additional medical expenses
  • loss of income and earning capacity

WHEN MUST YOU CLAIM?

A victim of medical negligence must issue summons against the negligent medical practitioner within three (3) years from the date of the incident, i.e. from the actual date of the surgery, misdiagnosis etc. OR from the first date that the patient became aware of or could reasonably have become aware of the complication.

Medical Negligence Claims FAQ

Medical Negligence, also known as medical malpractice, is one of the leading causes of injury and death globally. In South Africa the number of medical negligence incidents is increasing every year and this is why specialist medical negligence attorneys are so vital. At A Batchelor & Associates we provide an essential service to patients and their families when they have been victims of medical negligence.

Medical malpractice in South Africa can have serious consequences for patients and their families, and many of our clients have suffered serious losses and injuries as a result of this. Often, physicians and other medical personnel don’t adhere to best practices and unfortunately this leads to difficult situations where patients may be neglected and in some cases even suffer additional loss or harm. This can largely be attributed to the rapid decline in the level of healthcare received in many state hospitals and clinics, which means that medical malpractice is unfortunately on the rise in South Africa.

As expert medical negligence attorneys, we at A Batchelor & Associates assist each of our clients in the recovery of their losses and damages which they have suffered as a result of gross negligence at the hands of a medical practitioner and/ or medical facility. We provide expert legal advice, conduct thorough investigations in consultation with our panel of expert doctors and ensure that each case gets the individualised attention and expertise it deserves, and that each client receives the much needed legal support required to succeed with their claim.

WHAT IS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?

If a medical practitioner failed to foresee the possibility of harm occurring to his or her patient in circumstances where a reasonable practitioner in his or her position would have foreseen the possibility of harm occurring and would have taken steps to avoid or prevent it, they are guilty of medical negligence.

Generally speaking, medical negligence refers to medical treatment that falls below the accepted medical standards, resulting in either injury or death to the patient. If you are a victim of medical negligence, you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney who specialises in this field. At A Batchelor & Associates we have the experience and knowledge to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injury or loss as a result of medical malpractice.

When you are admitted to hospital or receive treatment from a medical practitioner, a relationship is entered into wherein you are the patient and the medical practitioner has a duty to treat you in accordance with the accepted standard of care. If he or she breaches this duty or fails to administer reasonable care in the circumstances, they may become liable for medical negligence, especially if the patient incurred damages or suffered losses as a result of this failure.

The law differs in each country but essentially it gives you – the patient – the opportunity to follow legal steps in the event that you have suffered harm and damages as a result of medical negligence. Legal action can be taken against a doctor, a medical institution (such as a hospital or clinic), and the employees who represent these institutions and/ or the Minister of Health in the Province where the State- funded hospital is situated. Together with a professional attorney by your side, you have a very good chance of holding these individuals responsible and receiving the compensation you deserve as a result of their negligence.

MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Patients often do not know their rights and/ or are not aware of the standard of care to which they are entitled. If you are not familiar with medical law in South Africa, you might not know that you are entitled to submit a claim against a medical practitioner, a hospital, clinic or other institution. If you fail to take the necessary legal action, you might not be compensated for your loss, which is not fair to any patient that has suffered as a result of medical negligence, and which is why the professional assistance offered by A Batchelor & Associates is so beneficial.

As a law firm that specialises in medical malpractice and medical law, we recommend that you start by getting the proper legal guidance so that you can be advised on the best course of action in order to be adequately and fairly compensated for your loss. Our specialist attorneys at A Batchelor & Associates will provide the guidance you need and advise you on the next steps that need to be taken in order to pursue your claim.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) specifically monitors and oversees the conduct of all the respective healthcare professionals in South Africa that are registered with them. Similarly, the medical and Dental Board does the same for dental professionals; they maintain a specific set of standards for the training and conduct of these medical professionals in South Africa. Medical practitioners should always act in the best interests of their patients, while keeping within the boundaries of doctor/patient confidentiality. Medical practitioners should respect a patient’s privacy and ensure that their dignity is never compromised. Unfortunately, not all medical personnel always provide the best possible care, which leads to medical negligence. Unprofessional conduct can include, for example, where a medical professional provides sub-standard care and a patient suffers an injury as a result. In these instances, the doctor can be held accountable.

In each case, there are certain elements that will be carefully considered. These include:

  • Whether or not there was a doctor/ patient relationship giving rise to reciprocal rights and obligations
  • Whether there was informed consent- i.e. was the patient given all the relevant and necessary information in order to make an informed decision with regard to their treatment and care
  • Whether the medical practitioner performed their duty in accordance with the accepted reasonable standard in the circumstances
  • Whether the patient received sub-standard care resulting in injury or loss

Before a case is instituted, the definition of medical negligence should carefully be considered, to make sure that the case is framed in the correct way. This should be done by experienced attorneys to ensure that the case is handled meticulously from the outset. The severity of a specific injury that was caused due to the malpractice of a medical practitioner or a hospital is a very important consideration to keep in mind. If an injury is very serious, and will likely cause long-term consequences, like an injury during a child’s birth, or a permanent disability, it is more likely to bring a viable claim than a minor, temporary injury. As experts in the field of medical negligence law, the attorneys at A Batchelor & Associates will be able to help you determine the viability of your claim with regard to the injuries involved.

OUR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE EXPERTISE

At A Batchelor & Associates you get expert legal assistance as our team specialises in medical law in South Africa. We will evaluate your case to confirm whether or not you are able to file a claim against a medical institution or medical practitioner, as well as advise you on the best course of action going forward.

Here is why you should work with us:

  • We are experienced in medical negligence law
  • We will handle all the initial investigations and processes
  • We can represent you in the event of court proceedings
  • We can help determine a suitable settlement
  • We can provide the needed support and guidance throughout the process
  • We know what your rights are and we will help you pursue your claim

At A Batchelor & Associates we offer the highest level of service and will provide you with the best advice in respect of your medical negligence claim. We know what your rights as a patient are and we can offer expert representation in your claim for compensation as a result of injuries sustained due to medical malpractice.