Medicine and the Law

The leading causes of medico-legal claims and possible solutions


  • Larisse Prinsen University of the Free State



Medico-legal claims, Causes, Solutions


Medico-legal claims in the South African health sector have markedly increased since approximately 2007. This is noteworthy as money spent on these claims from the public health budget, is money which should have been spent on the healthcare priorities identified in the National Department of Health Strategic Plan. As such, it becomes important to understand why these claims have shown drastic increases. This piece therefore discusses the causes of increased claims which include clinical errors, maladministration and mismanagement; the legal profession’s contribution to the problem; legal developments and patient awareness as well as some other additional causes. Possible solutions are also offered such as those related to the NDOH and National Core Standards and Ideal Clinic initiative quality of care standards; improving the healthcare system and quality of care; better distinguishing between valid and invalid or fraudulent claims, the possible role of fit-for-purpose legislation and a reconsideration of compensation methods.

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In Practice

How to Cite

Prinsen L. Medicine and the Law: The leading causes of medico-legal claims and possible solutions. S Afr Med J [Internet]. 2023 Apr. 4 [cited 2024 Jul. 14];113(4). Available from:

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