Medical Law – Naming your Practice

The Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (“HPCSA”) Ethical Rules of Conduct contain strict rules with regard to the naming of a medical practice. Failure to comply with these rules may result in disciplinary action by the HPCSA and a guilty finding of unprofessional conduct could attract a fine.

Rule 5 of the Rules of Conduct provides that medical practitioners are obliged to make use of their own names when naming their medical practices. In the event that a medical practitioner practices in a partnership or as part of a juristic person, he or she is entitled to make use of the name of the registered practitioner with whom he or she is in partnership or practices as a juristic person.

Should one of the partners of the partnership or a member of the juristic person die, relocate or leave for another reason, the remaining practitioner(s) may retain the existing practice name on condition that the express consent of the erstwhile partner or member is obtained. Where such erstwhile partner or member is deceased, the consent of the executor of the estate or next of kin will suffice.

A practitioner may not use the words “hospital”, “clinic” or “institute” or any other expression which may give the impression that such private practice forms part of, or is in association with, said entities.

Medical practitioners do not have free rein when naming their practices. Non-compliance with the requirements in this regard as contained in the Health Professions Act (56 of 1974), and the rules and regulations made in terms thereof, could result in severe ramifications for the practitioner concerned.