Turning patients away, is it illegal?
The state of South Africa’s healthcare system has been called into question many times over the past decade since issues with the government made it clear that public healthcare would become a priority.
However, in many instances over the past few years, it has become clear that some aspects of the healthcare industry, whether public or private, are still lacking, in regard to both management and resources.
In 2010, a public Johannesburg was called into question when they allegedly refused to treat a patient who had succumbed to third-degree burns because they claimed that they were already full and had no space to hold the patient. When paramedics refused to leave and take the man elsewhere due to his critical state, he was allegedly left in an open ward without care.
Many ideas about what can and can’t be done by doctors and private hospitals or clinics exist, mostly as a way of ensuring the highest possible standard of healthcare to all. For instance, it is believed that a private hospital is not allowed to turn away a patient in an emergency, regardless of whether or not that individual is covered by a medical aid.
In instances such as the one mentioned above, it is in fact the responsibility of the hospital staff, whether public or private, to stabilize the patient in such a way that it is possible for them to be moved to a hospital with proper facilities. If the person is found to not have a valid medical aid plan and is not able to provide payment, or if a hospital is understaffed and full to capacity, the patient can then be rerouted to a more suitable hospital, provided he has been brought to a stable enough condition to do so. Turning away a patient without taking into account their ability to travel in their stated condition is, for all intents and purposes, illegal, although the patient does not have to be admitted as a full-term patient, this decision remains with the hospital staff.
Healthshare South Africa is one of the most successful hospital and pharmaceutical management service providers in the country, and forms part of the larger Healthshare group, which provides quality services throughout the African continent.
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