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Medical Ethics: Uninformed Consent.

OVERVIEW

There is an argument put forward by medical schemes, administrators and their agents that access to record cards of patients is an automatic right as members of medical schemes, when joining a medical scheme, acknowledge that they are obligated to adhere to the scheme rules which includes provision of personal information; hence consent has been granted.

Importantly, the HPCSA Ethical Rules and recently introduced legislation such as the Protection of Private Information Act dictate that express informed consent must be obtained prior to the performance of professional acts or sharing of personal information.

Consent, therefore based on an assumption or in the absence of express informed consent can only be regarded as uninformed consent. This includes implied consent whereby a patient pitches for an examination or sits in the chair and interpreted by the practitioner as consent.

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