Disclosinga Medical Error
Medicalerrors are mistakes or errors done by professionals, which end up inharming or not harming the patient. There are different types oferror made in a health facility. Several ethical principles andMassachusetts laws support the health worker to disclose a medicalerror committed to a patient. There are several implications afterdisclosing the error but it is important to disclose them. The healthworkers and the health facilities should adapt the general principlesof writing a prescription and ways to reduce medical error in theirfacility.
Medicalerrors refer to mistakes or errors done by medical professionals,which end up in harming or not harming the patients. They comprise oferrors during administering drugs, errors involved in diagnosis andother medical errors such as surgical performance errors, errorswhile administering different kind of therapy, errors in equipmentuse, and errors when interpreting laboratory .when a medical erroroccurs the health worker faces a dilemma whether confess the truth ornot say anything to their patients. However, the law and ethics of ahealth worker requires that the health worker should disclose thetruth and find ways of minimizing the error in their healthinstitutions.
Thebeneficence principles emphasizes on the health worker doing well by preventing and avoiding an error from occurring. The non-maleficenceinsists that people ought not to cause harm to others or themselves. Therefore, when a patient goes to a health care facility to look forhelp, they believe in the health care facility and health workers toget the best treatment. In agreement with the beneficence principle,it is a moral duty for the health workers to remove circumstancesthat might harm others, in addition avoid harm from happening toothers. Therefore, disclosing the error will help the patient trustthe physician more and stop law suits placed on the hospital. Inaddition disclosing to the management of the hospital will assist inimproving medical processes and reducing errors in the future(Ghazal,Saleem, & Amlani, 2014).Despite the fact that disclosing the error to the patient, mightcause the health worker risk to losing finances, privileges, worklicense, and reputation. It is important based on the non-maleficenceand beneficence to disclose the error o the management and patient.
Theprinciple of autonomy refers to the capability of a person making arational, un-coerced, and informed decision. Therefore, according toautonomy principle the patient has the right to know details aboutthe treatment they are getting and any error in case it occurs. Mosthealth workers choose to conceal the error if the patient does notinquire about it. This becomes a deceptive approach. However, theautonomy principle supports telling the truth therefore, disclosingthe fact to the patient is justified. The Deontology theory is vitalfor the health workers concerning biomedical ethics. Kart emphasizesthat obligation without ethics is not ethics. The theory demands thata heath worker should do well to others, tell the truth, respectother individual’s autonomy, and harm no one (Edwin,2009).In addition, Virtue ethics agrees with the above principles. Inaccordance to the Kantian theory, health workers should followprocedures of good care designed for the patient’s protection. Therelationship between the patient and the health worker involvespeople, therefore telling the truth to the affected patient requireshonest conversations. Based on Kantian theory to lying is notaccepted morally. Therefore, it is the duty of the health worker todisclose facts to the patient. Hence, according to Kantian theorydisclosing the error is the best option.
InWashington D.C., the law requires the health worker to apologize,take responsibility, explain precautions they would take to avoidfuture events, and give an explanation to the patient and the familyabout what happened. The health work may fear to lose their career orface court cases. It may make the hospital cater for the extraexpenses for the patient and the patient may demand compensation.However, when the health work reports the error, it may act as atherapy to the patient and increase patients trust on their healthworker. As an advanced practice nurse, I would disclose the error toboth the management and the patient would be important to me. This isbecause of the ethical principles I have learnt and be able to builda better relationship and satisfaction with my patient. In addition,it will assist the management find ways to avoid the error in thefuture.
Oneof the ways a good health worker can reduce errors is by using thecorrect process of writing a prescription. The process involveswriting down the name of the practitioner prescribing the medicine,the strength and name of the medicine, the drugs quantity in bothnumeric and textual formats, directions on how to use the medicine,name, patient’s age, and address. In addition, writing down theprescriber signing and the date of issue. To add on, there aredifferent ways in which a health worker should try to reduce medicalerrors. For example, by entering the prescriptions correctly,reconfirm the prescription is complete and correct. Take caution ondrugs that sound or look alike (Nair,Kappil, & Woods, 2010).Be careful when using abbreviations and zeros, have sufficient staffwho have breaks and mealtime offs, find ways to reduce health workersmultitasking and being distracted during working hours. Properstorage of drugs is vital. Thoroughly checking and rechecking ofprescriptions. Ensure patients obtain a detailed counseling sessionon how to use the medication.
Itis clear to error is human. However, research shows that after healthworkers have committed a medical error they should disclose it to thepatient and the management. This is because it is ethically andlawfully right. This will help the patient to be able to make alogical decision after knowing the truth and increase his trust tothe health worker.
Ghazal,L., Saleem, Z., & Amlani, G. (2014). A Medical Error: To Discloseor Not to Disclose. JClin Res Bioeth, 5(174),2.
Edwin,A. K. (2009). Non-disclosure of medical errors an egregious violationof ethical principles. Ghanamedical journal, 43(1),34.
Nair,R., Kappil, D., & Woods, T. (2010). 10 Strategies for MinimizingDispensing Errors.RetrievedDecember 9, 2015, fromhttp://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2010/january2010/p2pdispensingerrors-0110
Gallagher,T. H., Studdert, D., & Levinson, W. (2007). Disclosing harmfulmedical errors to patients. NewEngland Journal of Medicine, 356(26),2713-2719.