Tort Law (cont’d) • Types of liability – Personal liability: each professional is responsible for his or her own actions. – Supervisor liability: supervisors are responsible for the actions of those working under their direction. – Employer liability: employers can be held responsible for actions committed by employees.
Tort Law (cont’d) – Employer responsibilities include • Hiring qualified persons • Maintaining a safe work environment • Providing supervision and direction of employees • Providing education
Common Causes for Malpractice Suits – Burns: from hot water, heating pads, lights, malfunctioning equipment, too-strong solutions, showers, baths – Falls: out of bed, while ambulating, due to wet floors, defective equipment, over-sedation – Failure to observe and take appropriate action: refusing to answer call lights, orthopedic injuries, not taking vital signs, leaving patients alone
Common Causes for Malpractice Suits (cont’d) • Medication and injection errors • Dispensing meds as an RN • Mistaken identity: meds, procedures, surgery • Failure to communicate: not informing MD of patient problems; poor shift reports; inability to reach MD • Abandonment: leaving a patient alone who should not be left alone—double shifts?
Common Causes for Malpractice Suits (cont’d) • Loss or damage to patient property: dentures, clothing, hearing aids • Things left in patients during surgery: res ipsa loquitur— the thing speaks for itself • Lack of informed consent: permission must be • Voluntary (no coercion) • Informed (person must clearly understand choices and what is to be done) •
Issues in Health-Care Litigation • Informed consent – Both a legal and an ethical issue – The voluntary permission by a client or by the client’s designated proxy to carry out a procedure on the client – Claims that they did not grant informed consent before a surgery or invasive procedure can form the basis of lawsuits
Issues in Health-Care Litigation (cont’d) • Informed consent (cont’d) – The physician must provide this information. – Information required • Treatment proposed • Material risk involved (potential complications) • Acceptable alternative treatments • Outcome hoped for • Consequences of not having treatment
Issues in Health-Care Litigation (cont’d) • Patient Self-Determination Act – Federal law that requires that all federally funded institutions inform clients of their right to prepare advance directives. – Advance directives encourage clients to discuss and document their wishes concerning the type of treatment and care that they want (i.e., life-sustaining treatment) in advance. – This eases the burden on their families and providers when it comes time for a
Issues in Health-Care Litigation (cont’d) • Patient Self-Determination Act (cont’d) – Two types of advance directives • Living will: Document stating what health care a client will accept or refuse after the client is no longer competent or able to make that decision.
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