Application: Legal and Ethical Issues of a Medical Error Case
Health care providers are fallible and will make mistakes. Unfortunately, these errors can sometimes have dire consequences for patients, and the providers, as well as the organizations, may be held liable for the harm that resulted.
In this Application Assignment, you will analyze a case study of medical error for its legal and ethical implications, and propose ways that a health care administrator might help prevent this kind of error from happening.
Review the scenarios of medical errors in the following readings from this week and select one of them to focus on in the paper.
1.Gallagher, T. H. (2009). A 62-year-old woman with skin cancer who experienced wrong-site surgery:
Review of medical error. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(5), 660–5 77.
2.Part 1, “Understanding the Causes and Costs of Medication Errors,” pp. 43-45 (Case on the death of the day-old infant), Preventing Medication Errors: Quality Chasm Series (2007), http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11623&page=43.
3.Rosenthal, K. (2004). “Where did this patient’s I.V. therapy go awry?” Nursing, 34(5), 56-57.
Prepare for the paper by considering the following:
•What laws were, or may have been, broken in this case, and by whom? Did you agree with the assessment of liability (if any) provided in the scenario? Why or why not?
•What are the main ethical issues of this case?
•Health care providers are sometimes reluctant to admit wrongdoing, provide full disclosure, or apologize to the victim or family, or they are advised not to by legal counsel, risk managers, or others. Reflect on the discussion in the JAMA article about disclosing errors to patients and families. What are some of the legal and ethical implications of disclosing errors in your selected case?
•What lessons could a health care administrator take from this case? Consider the role of the administrator in establishing and monitoring policies and setting the tone for the organization. Are there ways in which an administrator might help to prevent these kinds of errors from happening?
The Application Assignment:
With these thoughts in mind, write a 3- to 4-page paper in which you address the following questions:
•Summarize the legal aspects of this case. Identify the laws that were, or may have been, broken. Who was, or may have been, liable?
•Did the provider fail in any way to adhere to ethical standards? How might this have impacted the patient outcome?
•If noted in the scenario, how did the provider interact with the patient or family after the error came to light?
•Discuss the pros and cons of having the provider disclose and apologize for the error to the patient or family soon after the occurrence. What are the legal and ethical implications of this approach? In general, how might this approach impact the physicians, nurses, technicians, or others who may have contributed to a medical error that harmed a patient?
•In what ways can health care administrators help prevent the kind of error described in the scenario from happening in the first place? How can they assist the providers and organization after such an error occurs?
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