Medico-legal: Doctors push for specialized courts

The SA Medical Association has called for the establishment of specialized medical courts to deal with medico-legal cases. The Star reports that in addition to the courts, the association called for an urgent review of culpable homicide law and its application in healthcare settings. Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said: ‘Recent cases have again demonstrated the deficiencies the current legal framework has with medical cases.

Magistrates are often placed in the unenviable position of adjudicating exceedingly complex clinical interventions, without possessing the necessary training or medical expertise. This has severe and long-ranging impacts on doctors and, ultimately, on patients. Something must be done, and quickly, to remedy this situation.’ The association supported the view of eight other leading healthcare organizations which recently wrote to Minister of Justice & Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, urging a review of the existing legal framework. Coetzee added: ‘As an initial intervention, processes and guidelines should be introduced to ensure that investigators, coroners and prosecutors are guided by independent medical experts to determine whether further investigation or prosecution is warranted. Something urgent is required, the Minister must seriously consider the call for change,’ she said.

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