HLT POL 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Lifesaving, Phlebotomy, Punitive Damages
DepartmentHealth Policy and Management
Course CodeHLT POL 100
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HLT POL week 1 reading 3
Healthcare professionals need to be on constant alert for practices that could result in injury to the
patient. Not only is the injury a painful process, it can also be a life-threatening one. All healthcare
professionals must realize that they are responsible for their actions. The physician/employer also
assumes responsibility for the employees through the doctrine of respondeat superior.
Professional misconduct or demonstration of an unreasonable lack of skill with the result of injury, loss,
or damage to the patient is considered malpractice. Malpractice acts consist of professional misconduct,
improper discharge of professional duties, and failure to meet professional standards of care that result
in harm to another person.
Negligence, which is often an unintentional action, occurs when a person either performs or fails to
perform an action that a reasonable professional person would or would not have performed in a similar
When a person is injured they sue under tort law (“a wrongful act against another person”). The
unintentional tort of negligence is the most often cause of lawsuits for healthcare professionals.
A jury in a negligence trial would have to determine if a reasonable professional person would have
done the same action. Malpractice is the wrongdoing or negligence committed by a professional person,
such as a medical professional.
However, an “unreasonable lack of skill” is unacceptable, since it demonstrates that a person does not
have the required skills or is simply being careless. This lack of skill can result in injury to the patient.
Medical malpractice often involves more than just a poor outcome for the patient. It may reflect an
inexcusable lapse in judgment by a medical professional that results in serious injury and even death for
the patient. In fact, there is consistent evidence that nearly 90,000 Americans die each year, not from
their medical condition, but from preventable medical errors.
Both actions and inactions (omissions) can be considered negligence. Failure to provide clear
instructions regarding treatment or a medication’s use is an omission that could result in a disastrous
outcome for the patient. Providing incorrect information is also considered negligence.
Duty—takes place when there is an obligation established between the physician and the patient.
◗ Dereliction of duty—occurs when the physician or healthcare provider failed to provide a correct
standard of care to the patient and, therefore, has not met the duty.
◗ Direct or proximate cause—the dereliction or breach of duty was the direct cause of the patient’s
◗ Damages—injuries caused by the defendant for which compensation (financial or otherwise) is due.
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