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'Lawyers not benefiting from medical malpractice claims'

A lawyer says malpractice claims are not made lightly because a process needs to be followed.

FILE: A lawyer says nurses and doctors can be better trained when it comes to explaining procedures to patients. Picture: freeimages.com.

CAPE TOWN - A medical malpractice specialist disagrees with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi who on Tuesday said South Africa was experiencing an explosion of medical malpractice litigation in the public and private sector.

The minister said lawyers were trying to make money by inflating the amount of money claimed in medical malpractice suits.

But Charles Owen, associate at DSC Attorneys, says malpractice claims are not made lightly because a process needs to be followed and proof must be made available before a claim is taken seriously.

"We have to prove those claims and we have to do that on the basis of medical experts."

While he disagrees with Motsoaledi that the country is facing an increase in malpractice litigation, he says there has been a surge in patients seeking medical advice to better understand the implications of the decisions they are making.

"Nurses and doctors can be better trained when it comes to explaining procedures to patients so they can feel involved in decision making."

On Monday, Motsoaledi also said that one of the reasons for a spike in the cost of private healthcare was increasing litigation against medical specialists prompted by doctors trying to protect themselves from legal action.

_ LISTEN: John Maytham speaks to Charles Owen, associate at DSC Attorneys, about medical malpractice_.