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Private Healthcare Nurses In South Africa Contribute To Large Malpractice Claims- Study
Date Posted: 24/Oct/2018

A study has shown that nurses in the private sector contribute to large malpractice claims and are no better than the ones in public hospitals. Private healthcare patients believe they get superior care than those who go to public hospitals, but a new study claims the levels of treatment might be similar. In fact, the study concludes that nurses in the private sector contribute to large malpractice claims and are no better than the ones in public hospitals.

Professor Ethelwynn Stellenberg of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences has found that contributing factors in malpractice cases include nurses' failure to follow guidelines and poor monitoring of patients.
She said that as far as nursing categories were concerned, registered nurses were involved in 87% of the cases of malpractice.
“This should raise a red flag for our country. Not only is the state sector under pressure, but the private sector as well. We are burying our heads in the sand if we think that nursing in private hospitals is better than in state hospitals.
“This issue can't just be swept under the rug. We will have to find a way to apply pressure to ensure safe and quality care for patients. Profits can't be pursued at the expense of the patient. And integrity and ethical leadership are of critical importance,” Stellenberg said.
She said she had approached attorneys involved in malpractice claims.
“A total of 122 completed cases were studied, of which a fifth resulted in the death of patients. In all, 74% of the cases were settled out of court. Nursing malpractice affected the quality of life of a considerable number of the victims (69%), with 43% requiring additional surgery and 25% left with disabilities. In total, 79% of the patients were forced to stay in hospital for a longer period of time,” Stellenberg said.
Hospital Association SA (Hasa) spokesperson Mark Peach said: “I've checked with the various people at Hasa and have to report back that we are not aware of the study or the facts and details pertaining to it, so cannot comment on the University of Stellenbosch media statement.”
Stellenberg noted that “at the top of the list of factors that contributed to civil claims is the failure to follow guidelines (91%), followed by, among others, a lack of knowledge (75%), poor monitoring of patients (69%), failure to administer prescribed medication (66%), failure to respond to clinical signs (63%) and insufficient training (52%)”.
“It is not only the increase in the number of claims that is troubling, but also the scale, with many amounting to payouts of millions of rand. In the end these costs are passed on to the consumer,” she said.

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