Health studies probe
Private companies ‘endangering patients’ lives’
THE Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has launched a probe into a number of private companies for potentially endangering the lives of patients and contravening the Health Professions Act.
The companies are being investigated for performing home-based polysomnography (PSG) sleep studies and continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) titration studies with the aid of PSG equipment.
The HPCSA said the contravention fell under the scope of Clinical Technology, a profession that was registrable with the council, and would be either a specialisation in neurophysiology or pulmonology.
The act states: “No person shall be entitled to practise within the republic any health profession registrable in terms of this act unless he or she is registered in terms of this act,” according to HPCSA head of corporate affairs Daphney Chuma.
“Any person who is not registered in terms of this act and practises a health profession is in contravention of this section, and whoever pretends to hold such registration is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months, or to both a fine and such imprisonment.”
She said that while some of the companies were found to have employed clinical technologists registered with the council, they were not authorised to practise independently.
“Nurses may also not perform the home-based PSG sleep and CPAP titration studies as it falls within the scope of profession which requires them to be registered with the HPCSA.”
Chuma added that they were also concerned that the companies conducting the services may be risking the health of their patients.
“There is a concern that the services provided by unregistered persons may result in incorrect diagnoses and treatments, which might result in the patient’s health being compromised, and in severe cases loss of life. Therefore, it is highly unethical to subject and charge patients for services while such persons are not adequately trained or qualified to do so.”
She said their preliminary investigations showed that the companies were paid by most medical aids.
“Any registered practitioner associated with or referring services to an unregistered and unqualified person will be held liable for contravening the ethical rules of the HPCSA and may face charges and have fines imposed.
“Any unregistered person who performs professional acts falling within the scope of a registerable profession will be prosecuted.”