Nursing malpractice claims in South Africa

Nursing malpractice claims in South Africa
22 Jun 2020

In South Africa, nursing malpractice claims account for a significant proportion of all medical malpractice claims.

What constitutes malpractice by nursing staff?

Whenever a nurse fails to follow accepted standards of care, it constitutes malpractice.

Failure to follow accepted standards could involve acting improperly. It could also involve failing to act.

When malpractice leads directly in harm to a patient, it may give rise to a personal injury claim.

Common examples of nursing negligence and malpractice

Some examples of nursing malpractice include:

  • neglecting patients’ basic needs to the point where this causes direct harm
  • ignoring pertinent medical information from doctors, patients themselves or their family members
  • following improper procedures, leading to infections or worse
  • administering incorrect doses of medication.

Claiming for nursing malpractice

If you or a close family member has suffered personal injury due to malpractice or negligence by nurses, you may be able to claim compensation.

Claims for compensation due to nursing malpractice aren’t usually made against nursing staff themselves.

If injury or a fatality occurs due to nursing malpractice in a State hospital, a claim can be made against the State.

In the case of a private hospital, a claim can be made against the hospital’s owners.

If you may have a medical malpractice claim, it’s best to contact an experienced attorney.

What if you signed an indemnity form on admission?

If you signed a disclaimer or indemnity form when you were admitted to hospital, it’s possible that you waived the right to hold the hospital and its staff liable.

However, even if you did sign this type of document, you may still have a valid claim. It’s best to get advice about this from an attorney.

How soon must you claim?

In general, a medical malpractice claim must be made within three years from the time when the injury occurred, or you became aware of the malpractice.

This time limit is referred to as a prescription period.

Malpractice claims are complex though, and exceptions can apply. Again, it’s best to get sound legal advice.

Causes of nursing malpractice in South Africa

According to a study by Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the quality of nursing care in both private and public hospitals is declining in South Africa.

The study cited the most common contributors to civil nursing malpractice claims, as follows:

  • failure to follow guidelines (91%)
  • lack of knowledge (75%)
  • poor monitoring of patients (69%)
  • failure to administer prescribed medication (66%)
  • failure to respond to clinical signs (63%)
  • insufficient training (52%).

How DSC Attorneys can help with nursing malpractice claims

At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in personal injury claims and our attorneys have extensive experience in handling medical malpractice claims, including nursing malpractice claims. Our clients also benefit from access to top medico-legal experts.

We can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We work on a no win, no fee basis.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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