Medical errors: An ethical approach and the motivation to do better
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Undergraduate honors thesis / YU only
Medical errors of all types have become extremely common. Recently, there have been cases on the news where a nurse or physician made some sort of medical error in his or her treatment of the patient and was criminally convicted. This paper sets out to understand medical errors as a whole as well as the ethical approaches, both Jewish and secular, to medical errors. Jewish ethics and Jewish legality are one and the same, while secular ethics and secular legality are different. According to Jewish law, a healthcare provider is only liable for medical errors if they were due to negligence. If any other healthcare provider could have easily made the same mistake then the physician is not responsible, provided the intention is to heal. Secular ethics view medical errors through five lenses: autonomy and right to self-determination, beneficence and nonmaleficence, disclosure and right to knowledge, justice, and veracity. Secular ethics do not decide whether a healthcare provider is liable, but rather just give an approach as to how to view the medical error. Secular law views medical errors through four lenses: duty of care, standard of care, negligence and recklessness, and reasonableness. It is through these lenses that litigation is undertaken. Medical errors will almost always result in some sort of settlement between the provider and patient, however in cases of negligence or recklessness, a provider may end up with a criminal conviction and jail time. As terrible as errors are, errors spur institutions to do better and create better guidelines to prevent the same errors from happening in the future.
Levy, R. (2022, December 23). Medical errors: An ethical approach and the motivation to do better [Unpublished honors thesis, Yeshiva University].
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