Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare
Rapid advancement in the healthcare field has brought about a revolution of medical practice since the last century. Currently, diseases can be diagnosed in short durations and more accurately through the use of the advanced technology in health care. Surgical treatments have advanced towards a less invasive mode of management where there is a fast recovery with less morbidity of the patients. Apparently, with all these advancements, health care facilities in different countries are facing numerous ethical and legal challenges while undertaking the profession (Weatherspoon, 2017). Ethical issues in the medical sector revolve around the varying relationships between the doctors and the patients whereas the legal issues revolve around the basics and practical issues of medical negligence as well as the changing concepts of informed consent in the health facilities. Legal and Ethical Issues in Health cares are not only relevant to the Christian Health Professionals who have to make challenging choices in a world that is antagonistic to Christ and his Gospel but also to the Christians who are striving to live in accordance with God’s word (Weatherspoon, 2017).
The health care sector has seen numerous transformations with the health facilities turning to profitable sectors. They attract investors from different backgrounds with the primary motive of making profits. Also, there are assertions that the advancement of the modern medicine is changing to an impersonal nature due to the increased dependency on technology, which in turn has increased the cost of medical services. Despite the advancement in the health sector, it goes without any doubt that there is also an increased dissatisfaction by the patients who are expecting more from the medical providers, a phenomenon that has led to an increased occurrence of litigation. The medical profession that was once known to be so noble is currently considered along with other occupations which are obliged to paying damages caused by the employees (Larson, 2013). It is therefore subservient for the medical providers to conform to the ethical and legal obligations during their day-to-day practices. Furthermore, failure to comply with the laws should have detrimental implications to the doctors even when they offer services to the patients in good faith. Due to the increased frequency of cases filed by people in search of legal remedy from health providers, it seizes to be a matter of choice and instead becomes an essential lawful requirement for the health providers to be up-to-date with the ethics and legal requirements as per the law (Larson, 2013).
One of the legal and ethical issues in healthcare is confidentiality, which is the ability of not sharing information with anyone, apart from those who are entitled to receive the information. Notably, keeping any kind of information about a patient whether private or not shows respect for the person’s autonomy. There are set laws that relate to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which define what kind of information should be released and to whom. Confidentiality of patients is one of the essential pillars of medicine, which is not only crucial in paying moral respect to the patients but also in maintaining the trust bond between an individual and the medical provider. The principle of confidentially has been intact since the inception of the NHS (Pozgar, 2011).
Malpractice is another ethical and legal issue affecting health care. By definition, it is a negligent, unskilled, or improper treatment of a patient by a pharmacist, nurse, dentist, physician, or other healthcare providers. Due to the fact that no one is perfect and human is to err; every medical provider must have some malpractice insurance cover, which protects the licensed medical providers from liability that is associated with erroneous practices resulting in property damages, medical expense, bodily injury, as well as the fee involved in defending litigations (Pozgar, 2011). To term a claim from the patients as medical malpractice, the claim must have violated the standards of care, which are the acceptable and recognized code of conduct by the health professions; and the claims must have instigated an adverse legal outcome. An example of malpractice in health care is the administration of wrong drug dosage (Pozgar, 2011).
Another legal and ethical issue affecting health care is disease transmission from the patients to the doctors. There is a high risk of acquiring communicable diseases by both the nurses and doctors. Transmission of diseases between a patient and a doctor usually takes place when the medical providers do not want to make the patients uncomfortable by putting on protective measures in places such as wearing masks, gloves, and lab coats (Fredrick, 2017). Notably, it is a legal requirement for health providers to put protective measures in place to safeguard themselves from transmittable infections or pathogens that can spread either directly or indirectly. For that reason, hospitals, as well as the ethics committee, should strive to ensure that the employees are educated on the importance of protecting themselves while making the patients feel at ease at the same time (Fredrick, 2017).
The advancement in medical sciences also carries significant importance in the decisions regarding end of life care. It is overwhelming to make decisions regarding an individual who is almost dead and not in a position to make their own decisions. Apparently, all human beings are mortals, and hence no one is inevitable from death. The advancement in healthcare technology has changed the occurrence of natural death by intervening the time of death and prolonging the lives of individuals. However, according to, Acts 17:24-28, God is the maker of the world hence, He is the giver and life, and from Him, human beings live and move. In essence, God restricts Himself as the decision maker whose sole responsibility is giving and terminating human life. The bible allows human beings to preserve life and observe the body after God has terminated life but not to make decisions regarding the termination (Mueller, 2018).
There has been a rapid advancement in the healthcare sector where diseases can be diagnosed in short duration and more accurately using the advanced technology in health care. Despite all these advancements, health care facilities in different countries are facing numerous ethical and legal challenges while undertaking various operations in the profession. Legal and Ethical Issues in Health cares are not only relevant to the Christian Health Professionals who have to make challenging choices in a world that is antagonistic to Christ as well as his Gospel but also to the Christians who are striving to live in accordance to God’s word. Some of the ethical and legal issue surrounding health care include confidentiality, malpractice, and issues surrounding the administration of the end of life. Hospitals, as well as the ethics committee, should strive to ensure that the employees are educated on the importance of abiding by the laws set by the government regarding the legal and ethical requirements in the healthcare sector.
Fredrick H. (2017). Legal & Ethical Issues that Healthcare Professionals Face. CAREER TREND. Retrieved from https://careertrend.com/info-8658311-legal-issues-healthcare-professionals-face.html
Larson, J. (2013). Five Top Ethical Issues in Healthcare. AMN Health Care. Retrieved from https://www.amnhealthcare.com/latest-healthcare-news/five-top-ethical-issues-healthcare/
Mueller, W. D. (2018). Bible Study: End of Life Ethics Series [Part 3 of 3]. Christian Life Resources. Retrieved from https://www.christianliferesources.com/article/bible-study-end-of-life-ethics-series-part-3-of-3-759
Pozgar, G. (2011). Legal aspects of health care administration. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=N0NNDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA294&lpg=PA294&dq=Chapter+12:+Hospital+departments+and+allied+professionals&source=bl&ots=HesbtRriCO&sig=5r4CpH34kkGTKMEp98l_KgAGQ7w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYsOePp-baAhXMbZoKHcN3DiEQ6AEITzAH#v=onepage&q&f=false
Weatherspoon, D. (2017). Medical malpractice: What does it involve? Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248175.php