From willful ignorance to harmful intent, there may be various causes for medical negligence and malpractice. Distinguishing the two terms is possible by investigating healthcare professionals’ intent when administering or refusing to assign care to clients (Samanta & Samanta, 2015). Negligence occurs in “circumstances where a health-care practitioner or organization [has] failed to take reasonable care,” defined by an unplanned carelessness in the healthcare setting (Samanta & Samanta, 2015, p. 92). Thus, the central issue of medical negligence is its unexpectedness, which may stem from the healthcare staff’s inexperience, overworked state, or lack of environmental awareness under demanding conditions. However, no staff member may intend to harm a client directly. As such, investigating three different lawsuits may allow outlining methods of reducing the number of negligence cases within the US healthcare system by highlighting acute and relevant preventive measures. Doing so may present the possibility of further bettering the quality of healthcare received by patients through the reduction of medical errors.
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The most lethal outcome of medical negligence is the patient’s death. A legal case in Orange City, Iowa, investigated the demise of a woman from anaphylactic shock due to “an allergic reaction to the contrast dye given to her for the [CT] scan” (Gruber-Miller, 2018). As such, the first preventive measure for facilities to counter similar cases would be to have extensive information regarding clients’ allergies readily available for practitioners. Following this, healthcare professionals should educate themselves regarding the appropriate pre-procedure check-ups. These two steps tackle the occurred event’s central issue, which is a lack of “foreseeability of harm” (Samanta & Samanta, 2015, p. 94). Finally, the facility should schedule training for all staff, regardless of their position, on ways to respond to patients who are nearing lethal conditions. This last step should counter inexperience in staff and their unpreparedness for unexpected situations (Samanta & Samanta, 2015). Carrying out pre-procedure examinations and being informed regarding patients’ health circumstances and ways of their mitigation should help healthcare professionals avoid medical negligence.
In pediatric care, negligence may severely affect the life of a child and their family well into their future. In Orangeburg County, South Carolina, a child suffered from a wrongfully administered IV treatment, which resulted in the burning and scaring of his hand due to the medicine leaking into his skin (Zaleski, 2018). The adherence of staff to existing procedures of recurrently monitoring patients for changes to their health could prevent future cases of such gross negligence. Furthermore, the advancement of a culture of error-admittance among personnel could prevent the advancement of such events to detrimental stages. Finally, as a final preventative measure, the facility could organize training sessions to emphasize the importance of complying with regulatory laws during patient treatment. The reasoning for all three of these recommendations is rooted in addressing the issue of negligent treatment, which is sheer medical oversight, not the inexperience of staff or a scarcity of healthcare resources (Samanta & Samanta, 2015). Thus, maintaining a high standard of care becomes possible through these measures.
Another outlined case centers on negligence related to child delivery. The improper use of forceps to speed-up the childbirth process caused an infant in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to sustain “skull fractures and bleeding on the brain that resulted in permanent brain damage” (Kreisman, 2018). While the article categorizes the event as malpractice, there is no evidence to indicate its planned nature, making it another example of gross negligence. It is once again important to stress the benefits of promoting a culture of error-admittance in healthcare facilities. This particular prevention method is essential, as it is unlikely that a single obstetrician was delivering a child, and any staff member present could have posed a query regarding his delivery methods (Kreisman, 2018). The facility could also implement two other preventative means to negate the effect had by inexperienced or overworked doctors, for example, investigating staff members’ expertise and necessitating that supporting practitioners be present (Samanta & Samanta, 2015). The three proposed prevention techniques aim to address negligence caused by faulty situational judgment.
In each outlined case, a reader can apperceive a lack of adherence to health care standards of care and regulatory laws, which leads to careless treatment, a lack of initiative during emergencies, and error denial. Collectively, these circumstances lead to a reduction in the quality of care received by the patients, often resulting in outright harmful incidents. It is crucial to outline the culture of error dismissal that is prevalent in healthcare, as it disallows most professionals from correcting blatant medical transgressions as seen in the legal case of the leaking IV. Countering this existing practice with a more patient-oriented approach, as well as providing healthcare professionals with the means of incessantly advancing their expertise for the client’s benefit remains a crucial aspect of modern-day healthcare. Therefore, creating support structures for doctors and practitioners, such as extending the body of supporting staff and maintaining a high level of professionalism among them, may allow reducing the number of medical negligence cases.
Gruber-Miller, S. (2018). Jury awards $29.5M verdict for woman’s death in medical malpractice case. Web.
Kreisman, R. (2018). $42 million medical malpractice birth injury lawsuit to be paid by government. Web.
Samanta, J., & Samanta, A. (2015). Medical law (2nd ed.). London, UK: Macmillan International Higher Education.
Zaleski, G. (2018). Mother, son win $1.3 million lawsuit against RMC. Web.