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Healthcare Ethics and Law - Essay Example

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Changes occurring in Health care delivery and Medicine are the result of social, economical, technological, scientific forces that have evolved in the 21st century. Among the most significant changes are shift in disease patterns, advanced technology, increased consumer expectations and high costs of health care…
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Healthcare Ethics and Law
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Download file to see previous pages In addition, medical profession has defined its standards of accountability through a formal code of Ethics. Legal challenges and court decisions can seriously affect a medical professional's future. Thus, patient's perceptions of health care, particularly disagreements and researches of various kinds with medical professionals have caught the attention of every one since 1980s in Great Britain. These disagreements have turned often into legal complaints (Ellen Annandale 1998). These disagreements turned legal complaints lead to long medical litigations. In UK, the Court usually award three types of damages for such litigations.1.Compensatory damages - for an injured plaintiff's economic losses, costs of health care and lost wages. 2.Compensatory damages - for non-economic losses including pain, suffering associated to injury and 3.Punitive damages - in cases where a defendant has been found to have acted in a willful fashion, demonstrating negligence with no regard for the patient's well being.
Thus, punitive damages aim to punish the defendants and are very damaging to the medical professionals. Medical malpractice law is part of tort, or personal injury law. The standard used to evaluate whether the breach in question rises to the level of negligence is called 'medical custom'. Medical custom is the quality of care expected of a medical professional. This custom is primarily based on the testimony of experts in the medical profession and practice guidelines. There has been a shift in recent years from the custom towards a more independent determination by the court. Unlike health care facilities that are well placed under the risk coverage through insurance, medical professionals are not covered for such litigation risks (Brennan.T 2004). Although, medical malpractice system functions theoretically well, the actual operation of the system is much more complicated.
Evolution of Malpractice litigation in UK:
Despite a series of medical litigations in the nineteenth century, suing medical professionals was not so easy until the later part of this century. Rights for advance directives, doctrines such as informed consent have created a new approach to medical litigations. The increase in frequency of medical litigations can be attributed to five main factors: 1.Greater public awareness of medical errors; 2.Loss of confidence in health care delivery system: 3.Technological advancement.4.Increased expectations of medical care and 5.Reduced interest of the plaintiff in accepting compensations outside the preview of the jury due to higher compensation chances through jury. (Brennan.T, 2004). The medical practice is liable for six kinds of legal authority, viz, 'The federal or central law', 'The law of the state', The international code of physicians', 'Institutional rules and regulations', 'Standing orders of the chief' and 'Precedent court decisions' (Zwemer, 1995). There are certain areas in medical practice, which have important legal implications called legal hazards. On account of the above-discussed factors, there has been a departure from traditional approach to management of disputes between the medical professionals and patient. The important approaches in medical care today include ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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