Legal Aspects and Management Risks of Healthcare
The United States (US) healthcare facilities and hospitals face many risks that can potentially impair patients’ health and impact organizations’ performance. The issues range from managerial risks to medical-legal issues. For example, improper sterilization or cleansing of medical equipment can expose patients to new ailments and infections. Similarly, digital criminals may manipulate sensitive data like patients’ electronic health records (Maryville University, 2021). In this regard, the non-maleficence principle of medical ethics urges healthcare providers to prevent any damage or injury and ensure patient safety as a matter of priority (Kadivar et al., 2017). Therefore, as a healthcare administrator, I will be keen to analyze specific imminent management risks and legal issues and present them to upper management.
Legal issues are inevitable. For instance, the neonatal intensive care unit of my hospital may treat an infant and later on suffer a complication unrelated to the treatment. If the child was suffering from seizures and doctors stabilize it, the baby may fall from an incubator and sustain injuries. The accident may have been caused by a faulty incubator, nurses’ negligence, or any other factor. According to ethical standards, the doctors ought to alert the baby’s patients about the incident. However, the parents may sue my facility or the attending doctors as a result. Therefore, healthcare organizations are vulnerable tomany legal issues during their day-to-day operations.
Foremost, the professional code of ethics demands that doctors must disclose medical errors to patients or their relatives. According to the clinical case highlighted, the doctors must announce the error with honesty and without casting blame on the nurses or any fault in hospital equipment. Accordingly, if hospital services result in an error due to an inappropriate pattern in providing the service, the hospital should pay for all the medical services (Kadivar et al., 2017). Similarly, the head nurse or the chief physician should inform the patient’s relatives of any incidences leading to medical errors and give the patient’s family enough time to express their anger or concerns.
The informed consent aspect also forms part of regulations and laws that protect patient safety. According to medical law, compassionate and astute clinical care must form the basis of every sound ethical decision in hospital environments (Darby & Weinstock, 2018, p. 395). Wise practitioners give patients information about medical treatments to enable them to make critical decisions about medical care. According to Darby andWeinstock (2018), the multiple facets of the informed consent process include discussing the patients’ part in medical alternatives, treatment indication, and decision-making process. Besides, doctors share with patients about their uncertainties, benefits, and risks as part of the treatment process. However, doctors must assess patients’ articulation of the choice and their subsequent understanding of the provided information.
Therefore, even though informed consent and disclosure of medical errors to patients are two imminent legal issues I may repeatedly face as an administrator, I must mobilize all stakeholders towards the prevention of the same. For example, I will encourage doctors to adhere to medical-legal requirements to lower rates of medical claims and reduce medical errors. Besides, Darby and Weinstock (2018) add that safe practices lead to better medical outcomes, improved patient satisfaction, and enhance doctor-patient communication.
The Institute of Medicine laments over increased healthcare risks resulting from medical malpractices and healthcare management issues. For instance, the parents from my above clinical case may press charges and initiate a malpractice suit regarding the performance of my doctors and nurses. In this regard, experts recommend that hospital management that faces lawsuits must take specific risk management measures. To assess and manage the risk, the Maryville University (2021) advises that the management must have extensive documentation about previous concerns or complaints, feedback from staff members and peers, and the reported doctors’ previous treatment history. However, the management may prevent future reoccurrences by training human resources on risk preparedness and mitigation.
Other than medical malpractice, other areas of risk management in my organization may include day-to-day operational risks. For example, the overuse of computed tomography may cause unnecessary radiation exposure to a patient and lead to further medical expenses (Park & Sharp, 2019, p. 9). Therefore, experts agree that healthcare organizations must reduce financial and operational risks while improving patients’ quality of care by establishing necessary tools and frameworks (9). The comprehensive framework encompasses risk domains that help in risk assessment. Thedomains include infrastructural, environmental, technological, regulatory, legal, human capital, financial, strategic, and patient safety-based hazards.
Therefore, experts agree that physicians must rely on a standardized system approach to assess the benefits of healthcare tests and treatments and assess any potential risks. Notably, Park and Sharp (2019) affirm that the approach will help healthcare providers and frontline physicians to apply evidence-based treatments to improve care and outcomes efficiency, improve diagnostic accuracy, and identify areas of potential risk. In this regard, hospital administrators, like myself, must use feedback and measurement, integrated decision support, and education to reform and improve healthcare systems.
Accordingly, equipment operators in the emergency departments must undergo integrated clinical decision support, physical education, and clinical leadership endorsement. Park and Sharp (2019) also add that equipment operators may benefit from incentivized online instruction to help them increase diagnostic efficiency. Furthermore, hospital administrators need a robust electronic health record to sustain and remind improvements. For instance, Park and Sharp (2019) note that not only do electronic records help doctors align care with clinical recommendations, they have also statistically improved the diagnosis and prescription of antibiotics in the past (9).Therefore, administrators must offer integrated decision support, education, and also facilitate reporting and measuring performance to increase the effectiveness of medical interventions.
In summation, I will be keen to analyze specific imminent management risks and legal issues and present them to upper management as a healthcare administrator. Examples of legal issues are the disclosure of medical errors and the informed consent. In case of a medical error resulting from unrelated complications during practice, doctors may be hesitant to disclose the incident to the patients’ relatives. However, the code of ethics requires that patients’ families must be informed, given time to express their concerns, and the hospital must take responsibility. Similarly, as part of my administrative duties, I may be faced with risk management aspects like medical malpractice and other daily operational risks. In this case, the management must have extensive documentation about previous concerns or complaints, feedback from staff members and peers, and the reported doctors’ previous treatment history to properly assess and resolve the situation. However, it is the administration’s duty to prevent future occurrences of medical, operational, and malpractice errors. In this regard, the management must employ measures such as online and physical training. Accordingly, administrators must be prepared to contain any risks.
Darby, W., & Weinstock, R. (2018). The limits of confidentiality: informed consent and psychotherapy. FOCUS, 16(4), 395-401. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.focus.20180020
Kadivar, M., Manookian, A., Asghari, F., Niknafs, N., Okazi, A., & Zarvani, A. (2017). Ethical and legal aspects of patient’s safety: a clinical case report. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 10(15). Retrieved 25 April 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6150915/.
Maryville University. (2021). Risk Management in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities. Maryville Online. Retrieved 25 April 2021, from https://online.maryville.edu/blog/risk-management-in-healthcare/.
Park, S., & Sharp, A. (2019). Improving health and health care efficiency through risk management. Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy, 3, 9-9. https://doi.org/10.21037/jhmhp.2019.04.02
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