Criminalization of Healthcare Negligence

Criminalization of Healthcare Negligence and a Just Culture. Medical errors happen even with how much diligent healthcare providers are with their work in their scope of practice. I consider negligence, as the conscious omission on the part of any healthcare practitioner to provide appropriate or standard care to a patient or patients. A preventable injury is also considered negligence such a case of a patient that developed a pressure injury while being admitted in a hospital or any nursing facility. However, both errors and negligence can result to harm or even death.

“In healthcare, errors and accidents result in morbidity and adverse outcomes and sometimes in mortality” (Boysen, 2013). Healthcare professionals are committed to bring good rather than harm to all patients regardless of race, socio-economic or religious background. For this reason, I am not in favor of the criminalization of negligence.

Criminalization of Healthcare Negligence

Although there may be isolated instances that a healthcare professional intentionally plan to harm a patient, it cannot be generalized that any harm done was intended thus warranting the need to criminalize negligence. Being punitive to these unintentional mistakes encourages anyone not report these errors and just hide the incident which can be harmful in the end.

To reflect on the idea of a “just culture,” balance must be the key to ensuring justice is done. In the case of Wisconsin nurse Julie Thao, the enforced consequences of her medication error seemed extreme and unfair. Who decided what was “just” in that situation, other than attorneys and a jury of peers?

It is imperative today that licensing boards and actual health care providers are involved in investigations of negligence, as they are more sensitive to the stresses of the health care professions. Though there are exceptions to every rule, most nurses I know truly care, and try to help their patients every day.

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