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The phenomenon of patient abuse and neglect has gained notoriety in the clinical setting recently. Without supervision and rigid ethical standards in the nursing environment, healthcare workers may succumb to the abuse of patients. Studies show that the threat of patient abuse in the nursing environment rises with the extent of emotional and physical pressure experienced by nurses in the workplace environment (Albina, 2016). The rates of burnouts among healthcare professionals also correlate with the probability of patient abuse or neglect in the clinical context (Brüggemann, Forsberg, Colnerud, Wijma, & Thornberg, 2019). Counteracting the described problem will require a change in the hospital policies and the reinforcement of ethical principles, supervision, and communication in the selected healthcare setting.
Case Synopsis: Patient Abuse
Patient abuse is often underreported due to the limited capabilities of a vulnerable population to access the necessary media. Even with the increase in the extent of opportunities for communication, the phenomenon of patient abuse is remains mostly concealed from media and among general audiences. A recent case of a nurse abusing patients’ rights in Georgia shows that vulnerable groups need especially high protection since those that have power over health- and finance-related decisions poof the specified population would marginalize their rights.
The case under analysis involves financial fraud that has affected elderly patients. Specifically, unlicensed facilities took advantage of the lack of awareness in the target demographic and deprived them of any financial agency, leaving them without any resources for sustaining their lives and satisfying basic needs (Albina, 2016). The problem aggravated to the point where residents of the unlicensed facilities in question started begging for food in the streets, thus making the issue gain traction among community members and, ultimately, in media (Miller, 2018). The case under consideration proves the necessity to establish more rigid policies for controlling the activities of healthcare facilities and assist the aging population in receiving proper services.
Georgia: Patient Protection
The problem of patient protection has been the focus of healthcare authorities in Georgia for a while. The current regulations set the standards for care for aging people, yet the lack of opportunities for executing tighter supervision over the implementation of care creates the threat of patient abuse. According to the report card of Georgia, the general level of patient protection is deemed as “good” (55%), with the levels of transparency reaching the mark of 68, and the rating of discipline laws being at the 70% mark (“Georgia. State report card,” 2016). However, problems with duty-to-report laws (48%) and nursing board composition (60%), the levels of crime committed against patients has peaked at 28 cases, which is very high (“Georgia. State report card,” 2016). Changes in the state policies for the supervision of nurses’ performance could help reduce the levels of violence against and neglect of patients.
The current reporting standards also complicate the process of reporting the cases of violence against patients to authorities. For instance, the unwillingness to collaborate among staff members makes it very difficult to spot a case of patient abuse and inform corresponding healthcare bodies about it (Brüggemann et al., 2019). For this reason, the current framework of data management has to be restructured to promote active collaboration between nurses and healthcare practitioners, thus increasing the chances for locating a case of patients’ rights violation.
Approaching the case described above from the standpoint of the current regulations in Georgia, one has to admit that the problems in managing information, in general, and educating patients, in particular, has gained drastic rates in the selected area. The facilities in which patients’ were abused and neglected were unlicensed and could not be supervised officially (Miller, 2018). Therefore, the task of preventing patient abuse should start with educating the target demographic about organizations that ignore healthcare ethics standards and provide healthcare-related services illegally.
In addition, the case in question indicates that the local nursing board was unaware of the organization that functioned as an illegal retreat for aging people. The creation of a system that will allow spotting unlicensed healthcare organizations is presently a critical step in preventing patient abuse (Miller, 2018). Since the described organizations target aging patients, especially those that may have developed severe physical or mental health issues, an elaborate plan for safeguarding the rights of aging people is essential in preventing possible cases of patient abuse. For this purpose, the active communication between aging people and members of local healthcare facilities, primarily, nurses, will be needed (Brüggemann et al., 2019). The proposed measures will increase the levels of patient education and allow detecting the cases of patient abuse more effectively.
To prevent the incidents of patient abuse, patient education coupled with enhanced patient-nurse communication, interdisciplinary dialogue within a healthcare setting, and reconsideration of the existing legal standards for transparency in healthcare are needed. The measures mentioned above will help to locate the organizations and individuals that abuse the rights of vulnerable groups, which are represented by aging people in the case under analysis. As a result, the scenarios involving patient abuse are expected to become less numerous and easier to prevent from happening.
Albina, J. K. (2016). Patient abuse in the health care setting: The nurse as patient advocate. AORN Journal, 103(1), 73-81. Web.
Brüggemann, A. J., Forsberg, C., Colnerud, G., Wijma, B., & Thornberg, R. (2019). Bystander passivity in health care and school settings: Moral disengagement, moral distress, and opportunities for moral education. Journal of Moral Education, 48(2), 199-213. Web.
Miller, A. (2018). ‘Horrific’ elder abuse case highlights crackdown on unlicensed facilities. Georgia News. Web.