Conduct and Ethics
Scope of Professions and Practices
The scope of professions is defined in terms of section 33 of the Health Profession Act, 1974 (Act No. 56 of 1974) for all professions registrable with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Some professions have defined scope of practices or defined regulations relating to scope of practice to further guide their practitioners on the boundaries of professional practice. Kindly refer to the tab of Rules, Regulations and Guidelines under the respective Professional Board.
Basically, the scope of practice of each registered practitioner is defined in terms of ethical rule 21 of the HPCSA, which states that: “A practitioner shall perform, except in an emergency, only a professional act - (a) for which he or she is adequately educated, trained and sufficiently experienced; and (b) under proper conditions and in appropriate surroundings.”
Emergency: Provision of healthcare services should always be conducted within the limits of their practice and according to their education and/or training, experience and competency under proper conditions and in appropriate surroundings. If unable to do so, refer the patient to a colleague or an institution where the required care can be provided. Provide emergency interventions when required: In an emergency, where there is threat to life or limb (including a perceived threat) and where no appropriately trained healthcare professional is available, then the practitioner must intervene to the best of their ability.
Appropriately educated and trained: To qualify as appropriately educated and trained, the individual practitioner must have successfully completed a training programme approved and accredited by the relevant Board for registration purposes with the following requirements also met:
- The training entity/institution/hospital needs to be accredited by the board for training in that particular profession or discipline and for that particular competency.
- The trainee must have completed a duration of under and/or postgraduate training as laid down by the Board.
- The trainee must have been evaluated and certified as having met the requirements of the training programme by an entity accredited by the Board (e.g. Colleges of Medicine, Universities).
- Short courses can only be recognised as enhancing or maintaining skills within the field of practice and category of registration in which the practitioner had already been credentialed and registered by the Board.
- Practice should be within the scope of the practitioner’s profession as laid down by the Board and is judged by the standards and norms considered reasonable for the circumstances under which the intervention took place.
- Initial training under supervision as defined in clause above, by an entity accredited by the Board for such purposes.
- Certification of successful completion of such training.
- With any intervention, proficiency must be demonstrable, taking into account and judged by the standards and norms considered reasonable for the circumstances under which the intervention took place.
- The introduction of new interventions within the practitioners’ scope of profession is only permissible if the practitioner has undergone further appropriate training as approved by the Board.
Work under proper conditions and surroundings: All interventions must take place under appropriate conditions and surroundings. These are subject to judgement by the Board as to what is considered reasonable for the circumstances, surroundings and conditions, under which the intervention took place. No practitioner may embark upon an intervention unless he/she feels that it is in the patient’s interest, and other than in a life or limb threatening emergency, that it is safe to do so. The practitioner will be judged on what requirements are reasonably needed to best ensure a patient’s dignity, integrity and safety.