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Elements of Negligence in Healthcare

Introduction

To prove one is solely responsible for expenses means that evidence of negligence has to be produced. Any injury suffered does not necessarily entitle filing a personal injury claim. For the claim to win the monetary award, five elements of negligence, including duty, breach, because, in fact, proximate cause, and harm, must be substantiated (Crump, 2020). Any healthcare claim that wins has to be accompanied by these elements of negligence.

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Surgical Error: Harm

In the first scenario, the patient signs for operative surgery on the right knee. However, the surgeon does surgery on the left knee, discovers there is nothing wrong with the left knee, and then performs surgery on the right knee. Negligence is evident in this case, which is propagated by the surgeon who causes injury to the left knee. The patient has the right to sue the surgeon for battery since the treatment has led to the injury. In this case, the patient was hurt by the mistake as it was below the standard of care. The negligence of the surgeon can be attributed to poor communication between the physician and the patient. The surgeon marked the wrong leg for surgery, and the patient failed to communicate that the operation was for the right knee.

Clamp’s Preparation: Cause in Fact

The nurse who picked the hemostat which fell on the floor can wholly be blamed for the infected patient since she returned the contaminated hemostat to the tray. As a tool used in surgical procedures, it comes into contact with the patient’s blood, and hence if infected, it can pass it to the patient. The nurse should have put the hemostat in a sterilizer or discard it. The patient should sue the nurse for failing to observe cleanliness required in healthcare and failing to follow the ethical principles in nursing, including beneficence and nonmaleficence.

Proximate Cause

In the underlying cause, the Emergency Room (ER) doctor is wholly responsible for the patient’s death as the diagnosis was made only partially. From the patient’s history, it is evident that he has cardiovascular disease and is at high risk of a heart attack. The doctor uses a stereoscope only to examine the client. The patient should have been admitted and loading dose administered alongside echo performance. Observation should have been for a day, after which he should have been discharged.

Duty

The ER doctor is liable for the death of the patient due to negligence. He fails to examine the patient but uses observation as the examination model. The doctor is responsible for critically investigating the patient’s history and attending to him effectively but fails to act. It can therefore be argued that the patient was not examined and treated for the wrong diagnosis. The death could have been avoided by examining the patient well and treating him accordingly. This negligence also depicts lack of ethical principles in nursing, stating that accountability should be top priority. The physician should be accountable for the situation the patient experienced.

Breach

In this scenario, the hospital failed to pursue standard care for the patient. He gets tired and leaves, and then dies at home from cardiac arrest. The patient presents to the ER with shortness of breath, severe sweating, and chest pain which need immediate examination and treatment. The hospital’s management has delays where they keep patients waiting for long. This means that the hospital has not moved to digital where the management uses Electronic Health Record (EHR), patient Health Record (PHR), and Medical Health Record (MHR). If the management has automated its systems, the patient could not have experienced a long waiting time.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Breach and Duty

A nurse is left with a baby suffering from RSV, but the baby dies while the mother is away. Nurses are primarily entitled to taking care of patients (“Ethical Practice,” 2021). This means that the nurse neglected their duty until the child developed a choking obstruction from drainage and stopped breathing. The baby is later resuscitated and develops severe brain damage. In this case, the nurse’s legal responsibility was to take care of the child while the mother was away. It is, however, within the limits of healthcare for a mother to take care of a young baby. Only the mother of the baby can take care of some given responsibilities, but the nurse’s role is to adequately address medical issues. The child died in the hands of the nurse rather than the mother.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, most hospital deaths are a result of negligence, as evidenced in the above scenarios. ER doctors are entitled to a great responsibility of ensuring that they mark the correct areas for surgery. However, they should do this with an assistant since they are also human beings prone to errors. Errors might occur due to fatigue, inadequate experience in the field, insufficient preoperative planning, drug or alcohol, and poor communication. Nurses are bestowed to ensure patient safety by observing ethical principles in nursing, including maleficence, justice, beneficence, accountability, and autonomy (“Ethical Practice,” 2021). If a nurse adheres to these moral principles, errors are minimal. A patient has the right to sue healthcare staff if they receive a treatment they did not apply for. Similarly, for healthcare professionals to evade errors, it is advisable to automate their systems. Some mistakes, such as wrong medicine or the wrong patient file, can easily be avoided via EHR.

References

Crump, B. (2020). What are the 5 elements of negligence?: Medical malpractice. Ben Crump.

Ethical practice: NCLEX-RN. (2021). RegisteredNursing.org.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Elements of Negligence in Healthcare." July 2, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/elements-of-negligence-in-healthcare/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Elements of Negligence in Healthcare'. 2 July.

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