Of concern is the fact that not only the maximum but the also the minimum fines are very high. Previously, there were no minimum fines and, in practice, fines did not exceed an amount of R 10 000 and were, in fact, often set at much lower levels than this.
NEW REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO HPCSA FINES
Posted 13 May 2013
These Regulations set out a range of minimum and maximum fines that may be imposed when a practitioner has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct or has elected to pay an admission of guilt fine.
Below is a selection of the following new minimum and maximum fines for the listed acts of improper or disgraceful conduct:
1. advertising, minimum fine R 2 500 and maximum fine R 10 000;
2. issuing of certificates and reports, minimum fine R 2 000 and maximum fine R 10 000.(Before the promulgation of these Regulations, similar fines were imposed);
3. overcharging, minimum fine R 5 000 and maximum fine R 15 000 (In the past fines ranged between R 5 000 and R 10 000);
4. practising beyond scope of own profession or employment of an unregistered person,minimum fine R 5 000 and maximum fine R 15 000;
5. over-servicing, minimum fine R 20 000 and maximum fine is the amount claimed for over-servicing plus 5% of such amount or R 20 000, which ever is the greater;
6. incompetence, minimum fine R 10 000 and maximum fine R 50 000;
7. negligence or fraud, minimum fine R 20 000 and maximum fine R 70 000;
8. the issuing of an improper prescription, minimum fine R 5 000 and maximum fine R 20 000;
9. the divulging of confidential information about a patient, minimum fine R 10 000 and maximum fine R 30 000 (In the past these fines were usually not as hefty and were often as little as R 3 000).
The fines are payable in respect of one or more charges. Therefore, the fines may be compounded. For example, if a practitioner is charged with overcharging five patients, s/he may be faced with a cumulative fine of R 75 000.00. Charge sheets should therefore be carefully scrutinized by any practitioner who decides to pay an admission of guilt fine.
It should be kept in mind that the Health Professions Council takes the view that the payment of admission of guilt fines (relating to complaints that were submitted to the Health Professions Council after 1 August 2008) constitutes a previous conviction in terms of the amended Health Professions Act.