Knowledge of relevant medical laws pertaining to informed consent, by doctors working at the Department of Anaesthesiology of the UFS in June 2015
Doctors follow an ethical code imprinted on them from the time of Hippocrates. Practicing medicine within these ethical codes, doctors also have to practice their craft within the legal boundaries of the country and institution they inhabit. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the current knowledge of relevant medical laws pertaining to informed consent, by doctors working at the Department of Anaesthesiology of the University of the Free State, UFS, in June 2015. The secondary aim of the study was to determine if doctors working at the Department of Anaesthesiology of the UFS complete their section of the standard surgical consent form available in the hospitals they practice in. The study was designed as a cross sectional observational study, using self-administered questionnaires after approval by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Health Sciences, UFS. Data analysis was performed by the Department of Biostatistics at the UFS. The results were summarised using frequencies and percentages. Results of the primary aim of the study indicated a poor level of understanding pertaining to the medical laws in which doctors' practice with various levels of confusion to details especially regarding the Children's Act of 2005 and the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996. This study demonstrated the poor understanding of biomedical ethical concepts and how they are incorporated in the various South African laws.This study indicated that the doctors that worked at the Department Anaesthesiology of the University of the Free State during June 2015 expose themselves to possible medical malpractice and future litigation due to lack of documentation on the informed consent form.