Professional conduct within a health care setting is grounded in values that reflect the nature and the dynamics of the relationships between a provider and a patient. Because individuals who are facing illnesses are particularly vulnerable, they depend upon professionals in a health care setting to address their needs in a professional manner (the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 2012). It is important to mention that the core values of professional conduct include but are not limited to moral values like trustworthiness and integrity, profession-specific values such as confidentiality, and humanistic values such as compassion and empathy.
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Exhibiting professional conduct in a health care setting is important because of its alignment with such processes as decision-making, patient care, research, and public support. As for the process of decision-making, health care executives must be able to maintain ethical and professional conduct in order to serve as role models to ensure that other workers are complying with the proper standards and to create an environment in which decision-making aligns with the set standards.
The standards for professional conduct promote a critical concern for patient care. Such standards are likely to enhance the quality of health care by minimizing or even eliminating mistakes made by providers who act according to standards instead of complying with a set of guidelines created by the top administrators of the health care facility. Moreover, the promotion of professional conduct within health care settings increases the support of the public for the medical profession overall. For instance, if the general public trusts the medical community to be professional and comply with ethical standards, generous donors from the community are more likely to donate to medical research that could benefit the community.
Violations and boundary crossings in health care settings are issues that can significantly hinder relationships between providers and patients (Aravind, Krishnaram, & Thasneem, 2012). Among the reasons for boundary-crossing, several have been identified as the most prominent, including moral weakness, exploitative characters, and emotional vulnerability; when an individual is not completely mentally healthy, there will always be issues with his or her commitment to the ethical values of an organizational setting, as found by Aravind et al. (2012).
When professional staff members of a health care setting compromise the ethical boundaries that guide relationships between workers and patients, they risk patients’ wellbeing and health, especially in cases of unethical relationships between male doctors and female patients, where traditional gender roles contribute to the issue of exploitation (Galletly, 2004). Furthermore, patients who have reported instances of childhood abuse are much more prone to be subjected to a breach of ethical conduct by health care providers.
Apart from harming the wellbeing of a patient, the ramifications of boundary-crossing for health care staff can range from a verbal warning to termination depending on the severity of the violation. If the ethical breach is severe enough to be classified as an offense, the violator is highly likely to face charges and go to court, where the decision falls under punishment by law.
The four elements of medical malpractice (or negligence) include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation (Owen, 2007). Since the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff, if a single element from the list is not satisfied, negligence cannot be proven. Duty refers to what a medical professional owes a patient (e.g. providing a safe environment), while a breach of duty occurs when the medical professional fails to provide what is owed to a patient.
Damages occur as the result of the duty breach; for instance, if a safe environment was not provided, a patient could have fallen on a wet floor and have been injured. Causation is the most complicated element to prove since there should be a direct cause of the patient’s injury. With the case of the wet floor, for example, the plaintiff must be able to show that had the floor not been wet, the patient would not have slipped and fallen. When a plaintiff knows the mentioned criteria, he or she will be better able to prove medical negligence in a health care setting. On the other hand, medical professionals should also be aware of the elements of medical malpractice in order to avoid unjustified claims of malpractice.
The governing board of a hospital is responsible for managing the performance of the hospital. The governing body is legally responsible for the quality of the provided services, the staff’s conduct, and the facility’s compliance with local, state, and federal law. As a first responsibility, the board must ensure the quality of care provided by professionals who have been given privileges at the facility (Dearmon, 2014) by overseeing the quality of privileging, credentialing, and the process of peer review. As the second responsibility, the board must hire a CEO to develop an administrative team that makes strategic decisions (Dearmon, 2014).
As for risk managers, they are responsible for developing resources presented to the board that is targeted at establishing patient safety, high-quality care, and improvement of the board’s effectiveness. A risk manager educates, informs, and supports the board regarding issues of patient safety and quality of care (Dearmon, 2014). Thus, risk managers can potentially limit the liability of the board as well as its exposure to losses. The two essential aspects to the functioning of the Well Care Hospital include the medical staff, who serve as community members with expertise in medicine (Dearmon, 2014), and laypeople from the community (e.g. business owners and bankers).
Aravind, V., Krishnaram, V., & Thasneem, Z. (2012). Boundary crossings and violations in clinical settings. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(1), 21-24.
Dearmon, V. (2014). Risk management and legal issues. Web.
Galletly, C. (2004). Crossing professional boundaries in medicine: The slippery slope to patient sexual exploitation. Medical Journal Australia, 181(7), 380-383.
Owen, D. (2007). The five elements of negligence. Hofstra Law Review, 35(4), 1671-1686.
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University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. (2012). Policy on professionalism and professional conduct. Web.