Patients expect to receive competent and ethical care from their healthcare providers. When a medical provider harms a patient due to negligent care, the injured patient may bring a medical malpractice claim against them; which often involves a medical ethics consideration. One could argue that the ethical obligations of healthcare providers lie at the core of medical malpractice suits. For example, a failure to obtain informed consent may not only be a breach of legal duty but also an ethical violation.
If you or a loved one was injured because of medical negligence tied to an ethical violation, you have a right to seek compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced local medical malpractice attorney for a consultation.
Standard of Care: A Moral Compass for Medical Professionals
All medical professionals are bound by the standard of care in their respective fields, which is really at the heart of a provider’s ethical obligation to their patients. The standard of care is a legal concept that serves as a measuring tool to help determine whether the physician provided medical care that a prudent and reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances. Medical malpractice cases often hinge on whether a healthcare professional deviated from this standard.
Informed Consent: Ethical Communication between Providers and Patients
Informed consent, another facet of ethical obligations, goes beyond a simple permission slip for medical procedures. Healthcare providers have an ethical duty to disclose the nature of a procedure, associated risks, and potential complications. While there are exceptions, such as emergency situations, informed consent is a crucial aspect of the trusting relationship between a patient and a healthcare provider. The patient’s understanding of the information disclosed is measured against both a reasonable physician standard and a reasonable patient standard.
Human Error and Medical Mistakes: Ethical Dilemmas
When medical errors occur, they can be categorized into human error, harmless error, negligent error, and blatantly reckless errors. Human error, often unavoidable to some degree, may or may not be legally actionable depending on the level of harm incurred. While not an ethical failing, if a healthcare provider becomes aware of an error, they face an ethical dilemma: to disclose or not to disclose. Despite the potential legal consequences, there is an ethical obligation to disclose all knowingly-made errors.
Ethical Obligations of Providers and Patients
Ethical obligations extend not only to healthcare providers but also to patients. Ethical principles such as autonomy and beneficence are closely tied to the legal obligation of healthcare providers to provide competent and compassionate care. Patients also have a responsibility for their own health, to follow doctor’s instructions, for example. Legal doctrines such as comparative fault acknowledge that both providers and patients may share responsibility for an injury, ensuring a nuanced examination of cases and promoting ethical fairness for all parties involved.
While medical ethics provides the moral framework for healthcare practices, medical malpractice serves as a legal mechanism to address deviations from the ethical standards, ensuring accountability and protection for patients who suffer harm due to substandard care. The relationship between the two lies in the fact that ethical principles often guide what is considered acceptable or unacceptable in the context of medical practice, and legal actions may be taken when those principles are violated.
The Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers You Want on Your Side
The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.
Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.