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Judicial Aspect Of Healthcare Law

Judicial Process and Health Care Law


The judicial process is an important part of health care as it focuses on the executive, legislative, and judicial rules and regulations that govern healthcare industry. Every entity of the health care delivery functions under the governance of rules and regulations, encompassing all areas of health care. The paper discusses a legal issue of medical errors affecting an individual nurse, Kimberly Hiatt.

The Current Legal Issue of Kimberly Hiatt

Kimberly is a victim of medical errors as she committed suicide after realizing her medical malpractice and getting fired. Kimberly was a nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She committed a medical error by overdosing a fragile baby with calcium ten times more than the recommended dose. The nurse was fired as a result and later committed suicide after realizing the nature of the medical mistake that caused the death of a child. The nurse did not want to live with the aftermath of the medical error (Aleccia, 2011).

According to the cardiologist’s statement, it is not clear whether the medical error of overdose caused the death of the child as he cited it as exacerbating cardiac dysfunction. The child was in fragile condition, and the poor prognosis made it difficult to relate the death to the medical error committed by Hiatt (Aleccia, 2011). However, questions regarding her dismissal at the hospital were raised by different health stakeholders. Most of them questioned the investigations conducted.

The model of the just culture does not recommend firing of the health care providers who commit errors, but use the errors to identify and correct systemic problems. The administration of the hospital indicated that other factors contributed to the termination of the nurse (Aleccia, 2011). For instance, there were cases of sexual harassment against the lesbian nurse. The administration also claimed that the nurse did not show an understanding of how her deviation in medication policy contributed to the error.

Medical error is a serious legal issue in the medical practice and a threat to human life. However, it should act as a guide to prevent future cases but not to terminate the services of health care providers, especially if they do no repeat. The hospital was not legally right to terminate the services of the nurse taking into consideration that the investigations did not directly relate the death of the child to overdosing. The nurse was ethically right to report her error to the hospital administration as her regret statement was found in the hospital’s electronic feedback system. She also vowed not to repeat the error in future. Records showed that the nurse was responsible and incredible in the practice before the error, thus did not do it willingly (Aleccia, 2011).

Medical negligence and malpractice constitute a crime under the Consumer Protection Act. The basic knowledge of the crime of the health care providers is crucial as it enables them to work with undue worry about facing litigation for the malpractice (Barraclough, 2013). The legal systems encourage the involved parties in the medical errors to try solving their disputes without going to jury trial. The legal elements of medical errors must be proven. These include the resulting damages, the professional duty owed to the patient, the breach of the duty, and the injury caused by the breach. Disclosing medical mistakes is ethical for physicians and nurses as it indicates their commitment to their duties and a good legal risk management (Meyer, Lewin, & Eisenberg, 2001). Terminating the services of a nurse who has committed a medical error is futile. Instead, the hospital administration should help the nurses learn from their mistake and cope with the aftermath of the medical error if they are not repetitive (Meyer, Lewin, & Eisenberg, 2001).




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