Health Care and Laws

Introduction

This paper presents a discussion on the impacts of Tort Law and Criminal Law concerning the work of Healthcare Professionals. The Medical Industry is one of the most regulated sectors in the United States of America (Jay, 2010). This is attributed to the sensitivity and nature of the services offered in the field. The undertakings affect the lives of patients, their families, and friends directly. To help regulate and check activities of the healthcare provision, it has become necessary to have adequate laws to streamline the field. In the past, there have been reported cases of medical malpractices. These include negligence, invasion of privacy and euthanasia. The issues of ethics and law have also on several occasions been of some controversy due to diverse opinions and stances. Below are explanations on how tort law and criminal law have affected healthcare professionals.

 
 

Tort law is a branch of law that deals with disputes arising from civil wrongs committed by one person or party against another (Lunney, 2008). Punishment must be doled since such wrongs harm victims. Remedies are used to mitigate losses or harm suffered. In most cases, a remedial action includes damages, restitution, specific performance or injunction. In the field of healthcare provision, the most common torts committed involve negligence, invasion of privacy, battery, and assault. These torts are deemed to have a big impact on the professionals involved. Each of these torts is discussed below on how it has impacted healthcare professionals.

Negligence

Negligence is the most notorious and common tort in the medical field. Negligence is the failure of a person to act or respond as expected. Through such actions or inactions, losses are suffered (Simon, 2009). There are three conditions necessary for negligence to be proved. One party owes another a duty of care, the duty of care is breached, and as a result, the person dependent on the care suffers loss. In healthcare provision, professionals owe patients a duty of care to attend to their ailing conditions professionally. If a healthcare professional fails to conduct his or her job as required leading to some loss suffered by a patient, then in this case a professional is negligent. Also, in cases when a professional makes a wrong decision, which a reasonable professional in a similar situation could not have done leading to suffering or loss to a patient, the expert would thereby be negligent.

Victims of such actions or inactions leading to negligence have a right to legal redress (Van, 2010). In this case, the appropriate remedy is to award damages to compensate victims for the loss. This has happened on many occasions in the past. Therefore, healthcare professionals have no choice other than to acquaint themselves on the provisions of the law regarding their practice to avoid any legal tussles. Medical practitioners have since learned to respect tort law since they have been made to pay damages in cases of violation. Moreover, other professionals have had their certificates of practice cancelled.

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy is another tort commonly encountered in health care provision. This is the unwarranted sharing of medical information regarding some patients without their consent and reasonable cause for doing so (Simon, 2011). This causes harm or injury to victims since their right to privacy has been breached. The revealing of such sensitive and private information has disastrous effects on the dignity and respect of patients, their families, and friends. Those healthcare professionals found in breach of the right are also liable for damages. These professionals have no choice other than to respect and uphold the law regarding every person’s right to privacy.

Battery and assault are the last set of common torts that have the most impact on the practice of health care provision. Battery is the uncalled for actual use of force on the person of another while assault is the creation of an atmosphere of imminent cause of violence or harm against another. It entails the use of threats with an intention to instill fear in another party for some reasons. In the medical field, cases have been reported about patients being forced to take drugs or threatened if they do not heed some pleas from the medical staff. Other patients have undergone surgery without their consent (Vendemiati, 2009). This constitutes battery. When the medical team involved is found guilty of the offence, legal measures must be taken to address the occurrence. The commission of these torts has given rise to civil suits against the involved culprits. The law of torts has brought sanity in the healthcare practice by upholding the rights of patients and promoting harmony and justice in the society.

Criminal Law

Criminal law equally has an immense effect on the way health care professionals handle their assignments or go about making their decisions. Criminal law entails a branch of law that addresses the wrongs committed against the state. Such offences cause losses or suffering to a particular person, an act that is against the law. This leads to a breach of a nation’s laws. The most common crime committed in the field of medicine is Euthanasia (Simon, 2011). This is the intentional killing of a patient for whatever reasons. Some arguments have been advanced as to the reasoning behind such an action. In cases when medical personnel faces a difficult situation of deciding whether to allow death or continued suffering to a patient, they sometimes cut short a patient’s life to limit the suffering. The family of the victims may also support this idea or position. If the life of a patient is cut short based on such premises, the state can sue the medical staff for the death of the victim.

Law and Ethics Work

Law and ethics work together on some occasions while they sharply differ on others. The law constitutes the regulations passed by authorized bodies such as legislatures. On the other hand, ethics is concerned with principles or actions that promote morality in the society. They hold the view of doing what is right. This is based on the concepts or teachings of the Bible. Law and ethics mostly do differ as observed by Vendemiati (2009). For instance, the law requires the consent of a patient to undergo some medical tests and procedures. What happens when consent is denied is a contentious issue. Another issue of concern is whether medical teams should work on the directions and guidelines of patients and their families, who may be poorly informed on the matters involved. The law would support respect for the decisions by patients while ethics would be supportive of any decisions made by professionals so long as they are made in good faith and in the best interests of patients. Thus, the law and ethics differ in many scenarios.

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Law has greatly impacted health care professionals (Lunney, 2008). It is now mandatory for those involved in the provision of medical services to undertake some legal training. Professionals have also had to be cautious on the procedures of their work to ensure adherence to the law and respect for the rights of patients. This is to protect themselves against civil suits, whose effects can be career threatening upon those found guilty.

Conclusion

There is no doubt of the sensitivity of health care provision as a service offered to the public. Various states have realized the violations and have introduced measures through legislation to regulate the field (Jay, 2010). This has been necessitated by the increased cases of violation of patients’ rights in the past. To remedy such wrongs, the law provides measures on the way practice should be conducted. The effect of the foregoing is that the rights of patients are now respected, and any professional found to have infringed on them should be punished. This promotes serving justice in the society.

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