Healthcare: Liability and Claim

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 4
Words: 1075
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


The issue of responsibility and accountability of personnel and organizations dealing with healthcare matters requires extensive analysis of factors that affect the given circumstances before and after it occurs. This is because there can be different arguments when pursuing a possible suit, or trying to avoid one altogether. To be precise, there are issues of morality, financial sanity, personal and professional conduct to be taken into consideration.

Break- Down of Fact Pattern

Good Neighbors has not been spared by the economic turmoil. It is, therefore, facing financial challenges that come with it. It seems to be the facility of choice for the majority of the people in the area. The people are also feeling the pinch of the bad economy. The facility, therefore, seeks measures to cushion its situation from even greater trouble. Laying off of some of its staff is a consideration. However, it is reluctant to address laying-off directly as an employer. Overcrowding of patients in the facility is a growing problem. The management, however, does not employ measures to counter it despite getting enough complaints about the same.

There is a loss of staff at a critical time, and at the same time, there is an emergency that has to be taken care of. Eventually, injured victims of an accident check-in; three of which succumb due to a combination of factors. There is no possible claim on the death of the victim that died on arrival, but for the rest, these factors set the basis for a claim on liability analysis.

Corporate Liability

Good Neighbors is an entity that is supposed to generate income. As a business, it is supposed to react to the environmental (economic) factors which in this case are not favorable. One of the avenues that it seeks to take is reducing its wage liability through downsizing its staff. By not providing solutions to the problems being forwarded by the employees, the entity leaves save itself the trouble of directly cutting short some employees’ contracts by them resigning in protest. This does make economic sense as it averts the consequences that would have come up had the employees been sacked. However, the economic sense is not enough for the entity. This is because, after the resignation of three of its nurses, two new nurses were hired on the catastrophic weekend (Risse, 54).

For the victims awaiting surgery, claims can be successful since their deaths can be, directly or otherwise be attributed to the management. The operating room is not ready due to the overcrowding problem that had been put across to the management earlier. Moreover, the unavailability of nurses to handle them leaves only the physician to attend to both of them at the same time. Surgeons are also not readily available to handle the emergency, further putting the entity in even more trouble. It is the institution’s responsibility to ensure that proper working conditions are provided for its employees, as well as mechanisms to handle emerging issues such as overcrowding. Moreover, there should have been surgeons on the premises, hired to handle emergencies if they occur (International Council of Nurses 23).

Individual Liability

From the analysis of the situation at hand, it is evident that several individuals were liable for several factors that leads to the deaths of the accident victims at the facility. The perpetrators of the deaths and persons who bear the greatest responsibility are listed below. According to the International Council of Nurses, these either had mistakes of omission or commission in the execution of their duties. This led to the deaths of innocent victims whose liability they should be held accountable.

The Resigned Nurses

By quitting the facility at a critical time despite knowing the problems at hand, these nurses were liable to any eventuality that was a consequence of their action. Had they been around when the victims arrived, there would have been a more organized approach in attending to them according to Tomey and Alligood (25). The patient with a head injury would have been given the right dosage as a result, and those that were awaiting surgery would have got the required level of attention since there would have been an extra nurse at hand. Knowledge of the facility may have also reduced the chances of a mix-up of the transfusing blood that ultimately proved fatal.

However, claims against them are unlikely to be successful since their action was purely about the welfare of Good Neighbors- as a way of pushing the management to respond to the problem they had put forward well in advance. In addition, they quit before the accident occurred, and the management did not make an effort to retain them, instead preferring to hire two new nurses (Tomey and Alligood, 25).

The Newly Hired Nurses

At a glance, they seem to bear the biggest liability to the happenings of the fateful weekend. They are experienced, which is good, but when that experience is greatly required they fail to deliver. The one that administers the drug to the victim with a head injury is extremely careless: she unknowingly overdoses the patient after misreading the decimal point. Since she had only dealt with pediatric cases before, she should have inquired about the correct dosage just to be sure. A claim on negligence against her is likely to be successful (Barr and Sines, 12).

Their unfamiliarity with the facility may explain their absence from the trauma room where the two victims that awaited surgery were being attended to. This does not however make them liable since there could have been other patients that needed their attention. Other nurses should have been available to attend to the victims as well. For this case, the nurses can therefore be said to bear vicarious liability since they are in this situation due to the actions of other parties (Tomey and Alligood, 25). These newly hired nurses are quite responsible for the happenings. They should be held accountable for their actions and inactions as noted by the International Council of Nurses (13).

The council has rules and regulations that govern the working capacities of the various employees who fall within its mandate. This includes the nurses. It is also quite visible that the victims are the patients. According to the council, these patients have a right. At the time of treatment, this right to life is bestowed upon the hands of the nurses. This time they failed and should account for their inactions.

Works Cited

Barr, O’Brian. & Sines, Daniel. The Development of the Generalist Nurse within Preregistration Nurse Education in the UK: Some Points for Consideration. Nurse Education Today, 4, (2009), 274–277.

International Council of Nurses. Position Statement: Continuing Competence as a Professional Responsibility and Public Right. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Risse, George. Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Tomey, Amos. & Alligood, Moses. Nursing Theorists and Their Work. Indiana: Oxford University Press, 2006.