Clinical reflection and smart goals
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Malpractice and Negligence during Clinical Placement
Medication errors are one of the leading causes of deaths for patients. Although the rate of malpractice suits have decreased over time, it is evident that the patients who are affected may never recover. For many others, the recovery process may take years. During the clinical placement, an ethical dilemma was experienced when a chronically ill 66 year old man was brought in to the facility for medication refill. Unfortunately, he got the wrong prescription which was meant for a diabetic patient with the same name. This mistake was realised the following day when the other patient walked in asking for his refill as well. Hence, there was an ethical dilemma on whether to call the patient and admit the mistake, despite the risk of malpractice litigation.
Personal and Professional Self-Reflection
Personally, the situation was hectic since the team decided that it was best to admit to the mistake made and hope that the patient will not take any legal action. The hospital also risked suffering from the mistake I made by not following the right procedure while offering the medication refill. I felt like there were other ways to avoid accepting the mistake, and instead offer the right medication. However, it was not wise to let my personal feelings get in the way of doing the right thing. As a professional, it is important to admit when a mistake is made and suffer any consequences. That is because such mistakes may mean life or death for the patients (Fathi et al., 2017). They need to understand what happened and if any damage has been done to worsen their health.
When making any medical decisions, it is important to first consider whether the risks outweigh the benefit. The clinicians should always aim at ensuring beneficence, which is working with the choices that reflect the patient’s best interests over what the clinician may be trying to protect. In this case, it is in the best interest of the patient to make the call and admit that the wrong medication was prescribed (Ghorbanzadeh et al., 2019). Without this information, the patient will continue taking the diabetic medication, thereby increasing the risk of his health worsening or even death. The principle of justice should also be considered since it guides on the due process to be followed when treating patients (Jember et al., 2018). Thus, it is not justifiable to lie to the patient, even after his health has already been jeopardized by a medication error. Lastly, the principle of non-maleficence should also be use since it helps in determining what counts a harm to be avoided. Hiding such a situation from the patient is harmful to their health (Fathi et al., 2017).
Although there exists an ethical dilemma in the right course of action, it is clear that the hospital should admit that a healthcare professional made a mistake. It is better to immediately call the patient and avoid any further consequences since it has only been a day. The effect is not expected to be severe. However, by trying to cover up for the mistake, the patient may take time to come back to the facility, and instead continue with the wrong prescriptions which may even lead to his death.
Through this reflection, it is evident that there exists many situations in healthcare where an ethical dilemma may be experienced. However, to make the right choice, the professionals need to consider various theories that will help in focusing on the decisions that are best for the patient. Also, it is important to consider principles of healthcare ethics such as justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence when making decisions.
Strategies for Practice
To progress as a critical thinking clinician, the analysis above has shown that it is important to separate personal feelings from professional work. In addition, any decisions should be made based on healthcare ethics principles such as justice, maleficence, and beneficence among others. With these factors in place, the best decision for the patient will be made.
Fathi, A., Hajizadeh, M., Moradi, K., Zandian, H., Dezhkameh, M., Kazemzadeh, S., & Rezaei, S. (2017). Medication errors among nurses in teaching hospitals in the west of Iran: what we need to know about prevalence, types, and barriers to reporting. Epidemiology and health, 39, e2017022. https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2017022
Ghorbanzadeh, M., Gholami, S., Sarani, A., Badeli, F., & Nasimi, F. (2019). The Prevalence, Barriers to Medication Error Reports, and Perceptions of Nurses toward the Causes of Medication Errors in the Hospitals Affiliated to North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences, Iran. IJN, 32 (117), 58-68. http://ijn.iums.ac.ir/article-1-2886-en.html
Jember, A., Hailu, M., Messele, A. et al. (2018). Proportion of medication error reporting and associated factors among nurses: a cross sectional study. BMC Nurs 17, 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-018-0280-4