Ethical Issue Related to ‘Save the Life of the Patient’ at Mthatha General Hospital in South Africa


  • B Meel



s: Resuscitation, life-threatening, legal obligation, emergency management, and death.


Background: Resuscitation of a patient with life threatening conditions, before referral to another
department or hospital, is a legal obligation on the part of the health professionals. Several deaths occur
every year in hospitals and health care centres without an emergency management.
Objective: To highlight the ethical issue related to ‘Save the Life of the Patient’ at Mthatha hospital in
South Africa.
Case History: This is the case (AM) report of a 16-year-old Grade 10 learner who was assaulted
physically as well as sexually. She was bleeding from a stab wound to her when she was brought to the
Mthatha General Hospital’s (MGH) casualty. She was then referred to the Bedford hospital for repair of
the tendon of her right wrist as recommended by the doctor on duty. The patient was referred to Sinawe
Centre for forensic management, where she collapsed during an interview. The patient was taken on
a stretcher to the MGH casualty for an emergency treatment of her blood pressure. The history of the
patient and the care duty of the health professionals are discussed. Ethical issues are also highlighted in
relation to the ‘preserve the life first’ principle in this case report.

Conclusion: There was a serious breach in duty of care by medical officers in the Mthatha hospital,
South Africa. It is an ethical priority to save the life of the patient.

Author Biography

B Meel

Professor, MBBS, MD, DHSM (Natal), DOH (Wits), MPhil HIV/AIDS Management (Stellenbosch), Research
Associate, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth 6031 South Africa




How to Cite

B Meel. (2021). Ethical Issue Related to ‘Save the Life of the Patient’ at Mthatha General Hospital in South Africa. Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, 16(1), 1481–1485.