The field of medicine is very sensitive since it involves dealing with human beings. Precautionary measures should be taken so as not to violate the fundamental rights of individuals/clients. Some actions in the course of interaction between the medical professionals and their clients may be so gross as to call for stern reaction in order to redress them.
There are some instances where the clients have been mistreated by physicians and just like any other criminal case, legal actions are pursued (Sharpe, 2005). The essay discusses two common legal concepts; gross negligence, negligence, and malpractice and unintentional versus intentional torts and how they may apply in a health care setting.
Gross negligence as used in legal terms refers to a misconduct exhibited as a result of being obviously reckless or careless that even an ordinary person with no legal background can tell (Westrick & Dempski, 2008). It is an incident that may be termed an act of ignorance. Usually, ignorance is no defense in any court of law.
Simple negligence, on the other hand, is a form of negligence that is exhibited by an individual but some degree of care seems to have been exercised by the defendant (Sharpe, 2005). Malpractice is closely related with negligence and refers to a practice that contravenes what is expected of a given individual, usually a professional or specialist like in the case of the medical field (Sharpe, 2005).
When applied to a health care setting, these concepts help in categorizing the various malpractices by the medical professionals. Gross negligence, for instance, refers to utter disregard of principles and careless conduct that is so reckless even an individual with no medical background or training can tell its gravity (Westrick & Dempski, 2008).
These acts are usually deliberate and with ill intent. Some of the actions may include; willfully leaving a surgical instrument in a patient’s body cavity or a surgeon deliberately amputating a limb which is not affected or infected in any way (Sharpe, 2005). However, sometimes the medical professional may end up committing a serious act even after exercising some degree of care and had no intention of maltreating the client. This amounts to simple negligence although it may prove difficult to differentiate between the two.
In general, medical professionals and specialists like surgeons, dentists, and opticians may be charged with different cases of malpractices. Malpractice refers to the careless misconduct or negligent/improper actions by a professional in the course of his duties.
Medical malpractice generally refers to various forms of omissions and commissions as a result of varying degrees of negligence on the side of a medical professional (Westrick & Dempski, 2008). Some of the medical malpractices include exposing confidential/patient-specific information, surgical or diagnostic errors, below-par healthcare services, and lack of consent in non-emergency incidences.
The other legal term is unintentional versus intentional tort which has been defined by many courts with an aim of distinguishing the various misconducts. Unintentional tort refers to a behavior that results in the injury or harm of another person though not intended to do so
. In the medical field, unintentional tort refers to those acts by a medical professional that unintentionally cause harm to a client (Hill & Howlett, 2005). They can be regarded as ‘accidents’ resulting from negligence or in most cases omission. Intentional tort, on the other hand, refers to torts that are committed intentionally/at will.
For a case to be regarded intentional, the plaintiff must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant acted willfully with an aim of harming the complainant (Springhouse Corporation, 2004). Examples of these acts include unjustified imprisonment, battery, cross-land trespass, psychological torture, violation of confidentiality laws, fraud, operation without consent of the patient or next of keen, and assault. They also include all the ill acts that a specialist may commit outside the medical profession.
Hill, S. S. & Howlett, H. A. (2005). Success in practical nursing (5th ed). Elsevier Health Sciences
Sharpe, C. C. (2005). Medical malpractice: liability and risk management. Greenwood Publishing Group
Springhouse Corporation (2004). Physician’s legal handbook (5th ed). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Westrick, S. J. & Dempski, K. (2008). Understanding nursing law and ethics. Jones & Bartlett Learning