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An investigation of informed consent in clinical practice in South Africa

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dc.contributor.advisor Slabbert, Melodie Nöthling Chima, Sylvester Chidi 2018-08-03T09:31:28Z 2018-08-03T09:31:28Z 2018-02
dc.identifier.citation Chima, Sylvester Chidi (2018) An investigation of informed consent in clinical practice in South Africa, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <>
dc.description.abstract This study was designed to evaluate the quality of informed consent practiced by healthcare professionals in South Africa using an empirical quantitative methodology combined with medicolegal analysis to produce an interdisciplinary thesis on bioethics and medical law. Informed consent is an ethical and legal doctrine derived from the principle of respect for autonomy, whereas the rights to bodily integrity, privacy and human dignity are constitutionally protected in South Africa. The National Health Act 61 of 2003 codified requirements for informed consent by stipulating that healthcare providers must inform healthcare users about diagnosis, risks, benefits, treatment options, and the right of refusal, while taking into consideration users language and literacy levels. However, African communities are inherently challenged by problems of poverty, poor education, power asymmetry, and unfamiliarity with libertarian rights-based autonomy, which could affect informed consent practice. An empirical study was conducted at randomly selected public hospitals in EThekwini metropolitan municipality involving 927 participants; comprising 168 medical doctors, 355 professional nurses, and 404 patients. The study showed that healthcare professionals had limited knowledge regarding ethical and legal requirements for informed consent, and were partially compliant with current informed consent regulations. Barriers to informed consent identified were language, poor education, workload, and lack of interpreters. Most patients attending public hospitals were indigent, but preferred full information disclosure, and a shift from informed to shared-healthcare decision-making. The study recommends that a corps of trained interpreters should be introduced at public hospitals. This will improve providerpatient communications and minimize workloads, increase job satisfaction, and the overall quality of healthcare service delivery. Analysis of recent South African case law on informed consent revealed vacillations between the “reasonable doctor” and “prudent patient” standards of information disclosure which are inconsistent with the jurisprudence from comparative foreign common law jurisdictions. Therefore, South African court judgments on informed consent ought to be re-evaluated to establish a uniform standard of information disclosure consistent with international jurisprudence, current legislation, and constitutional protections relating to human dignity and security of the person. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (xiii, 681 pages) : color illustrations, color graphs en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Empirical bioethics en
dc.subject Doctors en
dc.subject Health law en
dc.subject Informed consent en
dc.subject Medical law en
dc.subject Legislation en
dc.subject Nurses en
dc.subject Patients en
dc.subject Public hospitals en
dc.subject Regulation en
dc.subject Jurisprudence en
dc.subject South Africa en
dc.subject.ddc 344.412068
dc.subject.lcsh Informed consent (Medical law) -- South Africa -- eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan en
dc.subject.lcsh Bioethics -- South Africa -- eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan en
dc.subject.lcsh Public hospitals -- South Africa -- eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan en
dc.subject.lcsh Jurisprudence -- South Africa -- eThekwini Municipality Metropolitan en
dc.title An investigation of informed consent in clinical practice in South Africa en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department Jurisprudence en LL. D.

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