Patient – Practitioner relationship

In recent months, the HPCSA has been inundated with complaints from patients regarding the lack of empathy from various treapractitioners. The Health Professions Council of South Africa is mandated to protect the public while guiding the profession. The ethical responsibility of practitioners is to treat patients with dignity and respect irrespective of the patients’ race, creed, colour or disability status. In a recent complaint, a practitioner refused to communicate with a patient in a manner in which the patient would be able to understand due to the patients disability. Being disabled does not mean a patient is incapable of understanding Having a disability does not mean a patient is incapable of understanding, it just means the method or mode of communication will be different from the ‘normal’ or conventional one. Complaints like these are unnecessary and practitioners may find themselves faced with litigation as a result. to miscommunication of treatment. Patient and practitioner should communicate in a professional manner to ensure that all parties understand the treatment that will be undertaken each other, and have proper communication that will leave both parties satisfied.

Such complaints are on the increase because practitioners are failing to communicate with their patients. Practitioners are encouraged to be sympathetic to patients as they are obligated to explain procedures or treatments to patients.

According to the HPCSA’s Ethicals Booklet – National Patients Charter, “treatment and rehabilitation must be made known to the patient to enable the patient to understand such treatment or rehabilitation and the consequences thereof.”

Practitioners must provide information that includes information on the availability of health services and how best to use such services, and such information shall be in the language understood by the patient. Patients should be regarded as the same and an effort should be shown on all patients to show that practitioners have only their best interest.