Ethical and Legal Considerations
One of the most important objectives of this course is for you to be able to relate the theories in the readings and discussions to situations in real life. We will develop these critical thinking skills each week via the discussion boards and short writing assignments, which will culminate in the final project, a medical malpractice case study.
The purpose of a case study in general is to apply what you learned to a real–life or hypothetical situation where you analyze, test, and propose solutions to the case. You may have a problem to solve and be asked to present potential solutions. Or you may have a situation to analyze and describe why (or why not) certain events were effective or successful. In processing a case study, you will have to apply research, reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills to identify underlying problems, causes, and/or related factors and make decisions.
For the medical malpractice case study, you will prepare a paper discussing a medical malpractice case using the IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) formula. You will discuss any relevant ethical theories involved and analyze the outcome, applying legal concepts from the course.
You should be thinking about your case and start your research by Module Three. By Module Five, you should finalize your choice of a reported case for your project. In the Module Five journal activity, you will be asked to briefly discuss your chosen case and provide an outline for your project. The final project is due at the end of Module Seven.
In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:
• Analyze why knowledge of the legal system is important for healthcare professionals, including the distinctions between the law, ethics, and bioethics
• Compare and contrast ethical theories and discuss decision-making models applicable to healthcare providers
• Examine the legal environment in healthcare, including the physician-patient relationship, medical records and patient confidentiality, and professional liability and medical malpractice
• Explore the laws impacting the delivery of healthcare, including HIPAA, the False Claims Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and laws impacting the workplace
• Analyze the role of professional regulation, the standard of care, and codes of ethics in healthcare providers’ accountability to self, their profession, their patients, and the public
• Analyze specific legal, ethical, and bioethical issues faced by healthcare administrators, providers, and researchers, including protection of life, the right to self-determination, and end-of-life issues
The first step of the project is to locate a medical malpractice case that interests you. The case can involve malpractice or negligence claims against any type of healthcare provider—for example, a doctor, nurse, dentist, or chiropractor or an institutional provider such as a hospital, nursing home, or rehab facility. The case you choose must be from a published decision of the court (rather than a case reported in a secondary source, such as a newspaper or internet article).
Published decisions are primary sources of law that create precedent for other courts to follow in similar cases. For more information about judicial decisions, and for help on where to find them, visit the Library of Congress Law Library.
Review these malpractice decisions to get familiar with the structure and format of a typical court decision:
These cases were found by searching the New York Official Reports website using the terms “medical malpractice” and “wrongful death.” To locate the published court decisions in your state, browse the resources available at the Library of Congress Law Library or visit FindLaw’s Cases and Codes section, which contains resources and links for cases by state.
It is easier to find medical malpractice cases in state court as opposed to federal court, so you may want to start with cases in your local state court. As you get further into your research, you will discover that some court opinions are short, and some are much longer and contain significantly more detail. For this assignment, it is important to choose a case that not only interests you but also contains a detailed description of the facts and circumstances so you have enough information for your analysis. The two examples provided above are good samples of the kind of opinion you should try to find. When researching cases, make sure the one you ultimately select contains enough information about the case to address each of the bullet points below. Your paper should contain three parts:
• Part I: Introduction
In this part, describe your case, including the parties, the facts, and the claims asserted.
• Part II: Analysis
This part is your analysis and should make up the majority of your paper. This section should be written in the IRAC format. Click here for a description of the IRAC model. Your analysis should discuss the evidence on both sides of the case and the defenses asserted by the defendant healthcare provider. This section should also identify and analyze the ethical theories involved and how they did or did not impact the decision.
• Part III: Variation
In this part, discuss how and why the outcome would have changed if the facts or evidence had been different. For example, if the plaintiff won the case, discuss a defense that, if available to the defendant, would have changed the outcome (for example, if the defendant could prove the plaintiff filed his claim after the statute of limitations had expired).
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