Doctors and the State: Lessons From the Biko Case
Social Science and Medicine. 1990; 30(4): 417-429.
The death of the well-known black leader, Steve Biko, in detention in South Africa in 1977 has continued to generate debate in the international medical literature. The three doctors who examined him during his terminal illness made a diagnosis of malingering in spite of overwhelming evidence suggesting that he had suffered extensive traumatic brain injury while in detention. The inquest into his death provided a rare insight into the manner in which state doctors function in relation to the police of a repressive regime. This article documents the relevant testimony from the inquest and explores the reasons for the doctors' mismanagement of Biko...It is argued that the repeated failure of the major medical organizations in South Africa to provide clear guidance and leadership to state-employed doctors increases the risk that individual doctors will continue to succumb to hierarchical pressures to condone acts of state-sanctioned violence against detainees.
Brain; Conflict of Interest; Death; Diagnosis; Dissent; Discrimination; Doctors; Expert Testimony; Fraud; International Aspects; Illness; Law; Law Enforcement; Literature; Misconduct; Organizations; Patient Care; Physician's Role; Physicians; Political Activity; Political Systems; Prisoners; Professional Organizations; Rights; Risk; Torture; Violence; Wrongful Death;
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Silove, Derrick (1990)The death of the well-known black leader, Steve Biko, in detention in South Africa in 1977 has continued to generate debate in the international medical literature. The three doctors who examined him during his terminal illness ...