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South African Medical Journal

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Public health officials and MECs should be held liable for harm caused to patients through incompetence, indifference, maladministration or negligence regarding the availability of hospital equipment

DJ McQuoid-Mason

Abstract


There have been several reports of state hospitals not having functional equipment  such as radiological equipment. Where these are due to incompetence, indifference,  maladministration or negligence by the public officials concerned, they may be held  personally liable for the resulting harm to patients. However, the courts have often  observed that where the State has been sued vicariously for the wrongs of public  officials, it has not obtained reimbursement from the offending official. It has therefore  been suggested that irresponsible public servants should be sued in their personal  capacity (in addition to the State), to prevent taxpayers always having to pay for their  misdeeds. If an individual public official cannot afford to pay all the damages awarded, the injured party can recover the balance from the State by citing it as a vicarious joint wrongdoer.



http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i7.10722
AJOL African Journals Online