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Legal Aspects of Health Care Management

The Doctrine of informed consent

The doctrine of informed consent is related to the concept of self-sufficient authorization of medication by a physician. A legally informed consent should be obtained prior to a medical process in order to relocate the consent in the context of institutional and social rules (Pozgar, 2012). Therefore, the term contradicts the notion that a physician executes his or her duties to serve a patient’s interest that is perceived independently. Courts have addressed claims by patients’ that physicians have disregarded patient’s adequate authorization for their actions. However, the doctrine of informed consent can only be applicable if it is undertaken within the principles of healthcare.

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The elements of informed consent require that a patient should be free from intimidation and inducement. It also entails a capacity that can be defined by the patient’s ability to make health care decisions and disclosure that provides the patient with information required to make wise healthcare decisions. A patient should understand and appreciate relevant information provided to his or her condition and make a decision to authorize a physician to perform his or her duty.

A patient can be legally informed through the doctrine of informed consent that requires a patient to be aware of the medical procedures to be executed and understand the nature of risks that may be involved during the process of medication (Pozgar, 2012). A physician has an obligation to disclose to a patient information regarding diagnosis, nature of the proposed treatment, nature of the possible alternative medication, and the consequences of the patient’s decision to decline or reject treatment. Informed consent has had moral consequences in healthcare. Thus, the doctrine of informed consent requires that it is the right of patients to make preferences on their medication.

The roles of a hospital governing board, chief executive officer and administrator

In a non-profit-making hospital, leaders are accountable for improving the quality of healthcare. The role of the hospital governing board is to ensure that a hospital provides quality healthcare which meets the needs of clients (Pozgar, 2012). They should be active to ensure quality management activities in a hospital. On the other hand, the role of the CEO is to facilitate communication among the medical staff, the board of directors and the administration. A physician is well equipped to facilitate communication between the hospital administration and the medical staff in the context of improving quality in healthcare. The chief administrative officers require an assurance that complex policy issues are taken care of by a competent manager in medical procedures.

Quality management in hospitals requires a committed board, therefore it is important to educate the board on the principles, tools and techniques that are vital for a continuous quality improvement (Pozgar, 2012). The role of the administrator is to introduce the board on healthcare guidelines. It is the duty of the board to encourage and evaluate the improvements on quality. Therefore, the administrator should have a working knowledge in the field of healthcare and in the implementation of programs that are able to evaluate the improvements in quality.

This explains why the administrator is really at the center of hospital operations and responsible directly for the medical staff’s performance within the facility (Witt, 2009). The role of the administrator is to train the staff and the board on new procedures and possible developments to enhance quality improvement in healthcare. The administrators should be involved in identifying known solutions to the performance of problems by ensuring that patients receive quality care and monitoring performance.

Standard of care

In the context of medical liability, the term ‘standard of care’ refers to a process that a physician should follow when diagnosing or treating a patient. In the field of healthcare, ‘the standard of care’ is required among physicians, since the failure to meet the requirements of the standard of care may constitute negligence. However, the implementation of the term “standard care” faces impediments because it does not adequately define the concept of negligence in healthcare and other disciplines, as well. The term has been adopted in the context of medical negligence but the physicians have innocently used the term to undermine the defense in a legal process (McConaty, 2011).

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In most countries, regulations do not guarantee the success of a medical process when a physician accepts to serve a client; therefore, if the decision by a medical practitioner results into a negative outcome, it does not constitute negligence. In a court proceeding, negligence is a term that is used to refer to the link between malpractice in healthcare provision and standard of care. Judges do not usually define the two concepts; hence, they may be used in depositions and the trial may confuse the judges (McConaty, 2011).

For example, if a plaintiff’s attorney asks a doctor whether acting in accordance to the “standard of care” would worsen a patient’s condition, the Doctor would innocently reply “Of course not!’ The answer may confuse the judges in making a court ruling. In my opinion, if a physician used prospectively a reasonable decision when diagnosing or treating a patient, he or she should not be charged for negligence.

References

McConaty, B., G. (2011). Standard of Care: A Trap for the Unwary? AAOS Now. (1), 1-6.

Pozgar, G., D. (2012). Legal Aspects of Healthcare Administration, (11th ed). Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Witt, J. (2009). Building a Better Hospital Board. Ann Arbor. MI: Health Administration Press.

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