Statement by the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on the violent attack on a Durban Gynaecologist March 7, 2020

The South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SASOG) condemns the recent brutal attack on one of its members, a Durban Gynaecologist, in the strongest possible terms. It is alleged that she was attacked by male relatives of a patient who died. We wish to express our empathy with the loved ones of the deceased patient during this difficult time.

Recently, we have witnessed several cases where tragic clinical outcomes were followed by blame, calls for punishment and attempts at retaliation aimed at health personnel. This trend is of great concern to the Societybecause doctors cannot practice if they are in constant fear of their lives and livelihood. The current case is especially concerning as it appears that relatives took the law into their own hands, and a cruel physical attack followed, resulting in serious injury.

Even when everything possible is done, medical outcomes are not always predictable and may be undesirable.  While great strides have been made to improve the safety of pregnancy and gynaecologic disease, some patients still become very ill and may even die. This does not mean that the doctor is at fault. We believe that greater awareness is required on the nature of disease, medical procedures and the limits of our science, within society.

SASOG agrees with calls for increased safety measures for medical staff and at hospitals as safety and security in the workplace is non-negotiable. It is a tragic day when caregivers must be protected against patients and their relatives. Morality, civilisation, and respect for each other and the rule of law cannot be enforced by security measures.

 

Dated: 4 March 2020

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