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South African Medical Journal

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Obtaining informed consent for a sterilisation in the light of recent case law

CJ Badul, A Strode, PP Singh

Abstract


The need to obtain informed consent prior to any sterilisation is a very well-established ethical and legal obligation. South African law, however, does not specifically state who is responsible for obtaining informed consent before performing a sterilisation. This has implications for the liability of a surgeon or gynaecologist in circumstances where the informed consent is defective. Due to the vagueness of the applicable law, a surgeon or gynaecologist might be held liable, even in situations where he/she did not obtain the consent and relied on a nurse or assistant to procure the relevant informed consent. This article explores the relevant statutory law and canvasses two legal cases that came before the court regarding defective informed consent and the resultant liability for damages. We also make recommendations for proposed amendments to the current law to provide further clarity.

S Afr Med J 2018;108(7):557-558



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