In Practice

Patient abandonment in primary healthcare settings: What duty is owed to medical students?

N O Mapukata


Much of the literature on patient abandonment focuses on legal implications as an outcome of a unilateral premature termination of a health service without the consent of the patient. The plight of medical students is seldom considered in such instances. Two cases are presented that highlight the issue of patient abandonment during clinical rotations in primary healthcare settings and the impact on the emotional wellbeing of students. Systemic challenges are flagged for consideration, taking into account the projected annual increase in the number of medical students who must be integrated and trained to respond to the needs of South African patients.

Author's affiliations

N O Mapukata, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town; and Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Patient abandonment; Medical students; Primary healthcare

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(10):741-742. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i10.14196

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-09-30
Date published: 2019-09-30

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