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    Health Care Ethics Case Studies

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    Case Study #1
    A 65-year-old lady went into a large medical center for a general workup. She was first seen by a physician assistant (PA) who conducted her physical and history. The PA noted that the patient had a history of an allergic reaction to Sulfa, which he wrote down on the patient's chart. He then sent the patient home with a follow-up with a physician for some problems he noted on her workup. The patient's chart was sent to a medical records technician who transcribed the patient's information into her computerized patient record. For some reason, though, the allergy to Sulfa did not get transcribed. A few days later, the patient was admitted to the medical center for another problem. When the physician discharged the patient from the center, she sent the patient to the nurse with a prescription for a Sulfa drug. The nurse failed to check the patient's written record and sent the patient to the first floor pharmacy. The pharmacist who dispensed the drug did not note the allergy. After taking one dose of the Sulfa drug, the patient had a severe allergic reaction that ultimately led to her death. The family sued the medical center, physician, nurse, pharmacist, and the medical records technician.

    1. Which tort would this case fall under: Intentional or unintentional? Explain your answer, give examples, and references.
    This is unintentional tort because the nurse did not prescribe the Sulfa medication with the knowledge of the allergy. The nurse unintentionally prescribed the medication to the allergic patient. Doctors and their agents are held to a higher standard of care than the average person; they owe a duty of care to the patient. To prove negligence, the plaintiff's family must show the facility and its' agent owed the plaintiff a specific duty (standard of care), the facility breached this duty, the plaintiff was harmed, and the breach of duty caused harm. Another example of unintentional tort would be if the wrong ovary was removed by a physician, due to omission in the hospital of properly marking the patient's body. Or, of misdiagnosing a condition that may have been linked to some issue previously transcribed in the patient's file.
    Lippincott's Nursing Center. (2007, July). Negligence. Retrieved from http://www.nursingcenter.com/lnc/journalarticle?Article_ID=727909
    Pearson Education. (2010). Negligence and Unintentional Torts. Retrieved from http://wps.prenhall.com/ca_ph_blair_law_1/2/538/137983.cw/index.html

    2. Do you feel this is a malpractice case? Explain your answer and give references to back them up.
    This is a malpractice case since the physician has the duty to exercise proper care and a patient must have confidence in his/her physician. This relationship is the legal prerequisite for medical malpractice cause of action. Once a doctor agrees to treat a patient, he or she has the professional duty to provide competent care. The patient's family can show that this did not occur since that patient died as a result of improperly prescribed medication. They would also need to show that the general professional practices in the industry (checking both the written file and computerized record) were followed, and that the pharmacist also followed all professional practices in the industry. The plaintiffs can show absolute compensable injury as a result of this negligent care. The patient's family must be able to show that the sulfa drug was responsible for the patient's death with sufficient proof. The center also failed to provide a standard of care. It is reasonable to assume that a facility would not prescribe prescriptions that conflict with a patient's medical history once the faculty has noted the allergy.
    It also must be proven if an ordinary and prudent person would ask about the antibiotic, knowing that she suffered from a Sulfa allergy. In the event it could be shown to be typical behavior (to inquire); however, then the plaintiffs would not ...

    Solution Summary

    This detailed solution reviews case studies in regards to medical error, intentional/unintentional torts, malpractice, donor priority listing. It gives suggestions as well as APA references.