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Medical Litigation

/Medical Litigation

Medical Litigation

Law suits against the medical profession are on the increase. A number of factors have contributed to this. Developments in medical science and medical technology have assisted the medical practitioner in diagnosing, detecting, preventing, curing and treating diseases and abnormalities in the human body. These developments have placed greater obligations on medical practitioners to acquire sufficient knowledge in their areas and relevant related areas of expertise to practise with due diligence and care since their obligations give rise to corresponding rights of patients.

Years ago when a child was born with a condition such as Down Syndrome or spina bifida it was regarded as a sad twist of fate. Nowadays in the modern world the immediate question is whether the doctor was negligent in having failed to detect the condition. An orthopaedic surgeon should not advise, say, an amputation of a septic foot without considering and drawing attention to the great strides in microsurgery which might save it. The prudent medical practitioner will have to keep abreast of new developments in medicine and science since the legal order transforms with the progressions in society and the spectre of liability looms larger with advancement of the human condition.

This is demonstrated by the recent case of Friedman v Glicksman which is discussed in the article entitled “Wrongful birth and wrongful life – new causes of action ?”

Another factor which has impacted upon the increase in medical negligence suits is public awareness. Whether this is due in some measure to sensational TV programmes of dramatic court scenes, the increasing emphasis is placed on the acknowledgement and protection of human rights or simply education, the fact remains that many patients no longer perceive their doctors as infallible beings beyond the reach of the law. This in turn raises the issue of the changing role of the doctor in society and the concomitant change in the patient – doctor relationship.


B. Com, LLB

Senior Partner : Malcolm Lyons and  Munro

Partner : Malcolm Lyons, Munro and Sohn –
Cape Town


Malcolm Lyons is the  author of  Preparation and Presentation of MVA Claims, published  on behalf of  the Association  of Law Societies , and co-author of  Volume 12, ‘Insurance’ , of the  encyclopaedic work, The Law of South Africa. He has lectured  on third party insurance  in the practical legal training  courses of the Association  of Law Societies since their inception in 1981, and in  the  Postgraduate  Programme of the Johannesburg  Hospital Department  of  Orthopaedic Surgery  on “How to  prepare a medico- legal report’.

He presented a paper at the 1993 National Medico legal Conference and was co-chairman in 1994 and 1995.

He is a member of the International  Medical Society of  Paraplegia , SA Spinal Injuries  Association , International Brain  Injury Association , SA Clinical  Neuropsychology  Association , American Trial Lawyers  Association and UK Association  of Personal Injury Lawyers.

2018-10-28T15:21:31+02:00May 18th, 2015|

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