Ethics misconduct among dietetic practitioners in South Africa (2007-2013)
Morals refer to a belief-derived system according to which a certain group governs its behaviour, whereas ethics is a broader term whereby belief-system-based behaviour is replaced by a generic code of behaviour, often founded in an international code. In South Africa, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is a statutory body which was established in terms of the Health Professions Act (No 56 of 1974) to regulate the behaviour of practitioners, and which is committed to serving and protecting the public and providing guidance to registered healthcare practitioners. This study analyses the case content of all guilty verdicts relating to professional standard breaches and ethics misconduct against HPCSA-registered dietitians in the period 2007-2013. One core finding of the study was that a guilty verdict of unethical behaviour against dietitians in South Africa occurs very rarely. Even though dietitians may not be prone to unethical behaviour, it is strongly recommended that thorough, in-depth training in ethics, including bioethics and professional integrity, forms an integral and compulsory part of all undergraduate and postgraduate dietetic programmes.
Keywords: ethical complaints, ethical transgressions, negligence, incompetence, morals
Material submitted for publication in the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) is accepted provided it has not been published elsewhere. Copyright forms will be sent with acknowledgement of receipt and the SAJCN reserves copyright of the material published.
The SAJCN does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.