South African Medical Association

Media Release:SAMA comments on ethical principles of doctor-patient relationship

24 July 2017

SAMA comments on ethical principles of doctor-patient relationship

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has noted the comments following the release of a book detailing the last days of former president Nelson Mandela. The book was written by former SANDF Surgeon-General Dr Vejay Ramlakan, who was part of the medical team treating Mr Mandela in the months before his death.

“Irrespective of the contents of the book, all doctors are reminded of their ethical responsibilities to patients, regardless of who they are. The core ethical tenet of the doctor-patient relationship is the principle of confidentiality.

“In the now no longer used Hippocratic Oath, it refers to secrets in the doctor-patient relationship as being ‘holy’. Perhaps of greater relevance the Geneva Declaration, used by most doctors in their oath taking, contains the line: ‘I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died’,’’ notes Dr Mzukisi Grootboom, chairperson of SAMA.

Dr Grootboom says the issue is clear: any patient-related information within the doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct, and must be respected, even after death. He says violating this principle undermines the trust the public has in their medical practitioners.

Notes to Editors
About SAMA
The South African Medical Association was formally constituted on 21 May 1998 as a unification of a variety of doctors’ groups that had represented a diversity of interests. SAMA is a non-statutory, professional association for public, and private sector medical practitioners. SAMA is a voluntary membership association, existing to serve the best interests and needs of its members in any and all healthcare related matters.

Head of PR & Communications
Dr Simonia Magardie
082 905 8505

Chairperson: SAMA
Dr Mzukisi Grootboom
083 306 7779

Spokesperson 2
Vice-Chairperson: SAMA
Prof Mark Sonderup
083 626 1909

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