Articles

Legal reflections on the doctor-patient relationship in preparation for South Africa’s National Health Insurance

M Slabbert, M Labuschaigne

Abstract


The doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of any medical intervention. Over time, the relationship has changed, from the era of paternalism to the era of self-determination or patient autonomy, following changes resulting from consumerism and lately, in South Africa, socialised medicine as a result of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI). The premise of this article is that patient autonomy is invariably limited by a determination of who will carry the cost of a medical intervention. In recent years, legislative developments have affected the understanding of a patient and doctor through the introduction of new references, such as ‘user’, ‘data subject’ and ‘consumer’ for a patient, and ‘service provider’ and ‘responsible party’ for a doctor, each giving different meanings to the doctor-patient relationship. Recent statutory additions also include new remedies available to aggrieved patients as parties in the doctor-patient relationship. The article concludes with brief observations on how the NHI will alter the essence and nature of the doctor-patient relationship in future.

Authors' affiliations

M Slabbert, Department of Jurisprudence, School of Law, College of Law, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

M Labuschaigne, Department of Jurisprudence, School of Law, College of Law, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2022;15(1):31.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-05-19
Date published: 2022-05-19

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