On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.99 n.3 Cape Town Mar. 2009
Complaints against doctors
To the Editor: The 'patients corner' in the South African Medical Association website prominently displays the following:
COMPLAINTS AGAINST DOCTORS:
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
investigates complaints against medical practitioners on
behalf of the public.
Complaints must be lodged in writing to:
Health Professions Council of SA
PO Box 205
or on their website: www.hpcsa.co.za.
Of course the HPCSA accepts complaints. So do litigation lawyers, medical aid societies, fraud lines, consumer columns and the South African Police Services. The South African Medical Association at branch level also has an established structure to deal with complaints.
What possible reason has SAMA to prompt complainants to 'mainline' to the HPCSA, knowing full well the time lags, complexities and costs of defending at HPCSA level, imposing (as it does) considerable duress upon SAMA's members? The foundation principle in resolving a dispute is to attempt resolution at the lowest level. If this fails at the level of the individual doctor, the next lowest level to attempt resolution would be within the doctors' association, namely SAMA. Why, then, does SAMA not say this to enquiring laymen?
Perhaps SAMA also plans to advertise litigation lawyers on their website as a fund generator.
J P Driver-Jowitt
3 Norfolk Road