In Practice

Do COVID-19 patients needing extended care in an intensive care unit fall under the ‘emergency medical treatment’ provisions of the South African Constitution?

D J McQuoid-Mason


Whether COVID-19 patients in need of extended care in an intensive care unit qualify for ‘emergency medical treatment’ is answered by considering the Constitution, the meaning of emergency medical treatment, and whether such patients are in an incurable chronic condition. Considering ethical guidelines for the withholding and withdrawal of treatment may assist a court in determining whether a healthcare practitioner has acted with the degree of skill and care required of a reasonably competent practitioner in his or her branch of the profession.

Author's affiliations

D J McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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COVID-19; Extended ICU care; Emergency medical treatment; Meaning in Constitution; Withholding and withdrawal; Ethical and legal guidelines

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(1):23-25. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v111i1.15424

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-12-14
Date published: 2020-12-14

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