On 12 September 2023, the Health Professions Council of South Africa released the revised ethical guidelines on the withholding and withdrawal of treatment.

In terms of the revised guidelines it is required that a patient’s medical history, options discussed and people consulted (professionals and relatives), available treatment options, associated risks, details of consent provided, including the names of people involved in the discussions, any request or concern expressed during discussions, decisions made inclusive of reasoning as well as the proposed management plan, must be recorded and securely kept by health practitioners and/or professionals. This is particularly important when a decision to withhold or withdraw treatment is made or soon thereafter. It is important to note that one should avoid abbreviations, terminology and jargon which could lead to confusion.

As one would expect, the revised guidelines require health practitioners and/or professionals to adhere to the provision of the Protection of Personal Information Act 2013 (Act 4 of 2013) and other relevant provisions in the management of the above information.

All health practitioners and/or professionals are expected to acquaint themselves with and adhere to the revised guidelines. A copy of the revised guidelines can be accessed here revised guidelines.

Should you have any questions regarding these guidelines and their impact, please reach out to us.