A murder charge against an Indian-origin doctor in South Africa’s Johannesburg after his patient died has triggered an outcry among the South African medical fraternity, which argued that “premature criminalisation” of doctors are negatively affecting the ability of healthcare workers to save lives and negating the trust in the law to protect the public.
Dr Avindra Dayanand, 35, had handed himself over to police after one of his patients died following a gall bladder surgery, according to a report in the Sunday Times news portal on Sunday.
An inquest docket was initially opened following the patient, Monique Vandayar’s death, but was later changed to murder by the National Prosecuting Authority.
Dr Dayanand is expected to be tried under the concept of ‘dolus eventualis’ (legal intention). This relates to the accused person objectively foreseeing the possibility of their act causing death.
Dr Dayanand appeared in the Richards Bay magistrates court this week and was released on a bail of 10,000 rands. The case is adjourned to November 8 for his legal team to make representations to the director of public prosecutions.
Meanwhile, health professionals in South Africa have rallied behind Dr Dayanand, questioning the state’s competence in the handling of medical cases, which experts have described as “highly complex”, the Sunday Times report said.
Dr Rinesh Chetty, an executive at multi-disciplinary medical organisation KZN Specialist Network, said “premature criminalisation” of doctors was negatively affecting the ability of healthcare workers to save lives and negating the trust in the law to protect the public.
Among the organisations that have spoken out against the decision are the South African Private Practitioners Forum and the Association of Surgeons of South Africa, which argued that the regulatory body, the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA), had already conducted an inquiry into the matter and its findings were awaited.
It called on the prosecuting authority to withdraw the charges and allow the HPCSA process to be completed.
A fellow doctor, Maheshwar Naidoo, said Dr Dayanand had provided a full explanation already to the HPCSA after the latter had received a complaint.
Mr Naidoo said if the HPCSA had recommended a culpable homicide or even murder charge, the health professionals would not be less concerned, but this had not been the case with the ‘dolus eventualis’ decision.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)