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.”

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