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Assessment of physician-assisted death by members of the public prosecution in The Netherlands.
OBJECTIVES: To identify the factors that influence the assessment of reported cases of physician-assisted death by members of the public prosecution. DESIGN/SETTING: At the beginning of 1996, during verbal interviews, 12 short case-descriptions were presented to a representative group of 47 members of the public prosecution in the Netherlands. RESULTS: Assessment varied considerably between respondents. Some respondents made more "lenient" assessments than others. Characteristics of the respondents, such as function, personal-life philosophy and age, were not related to the assessment. Case characteristics, i.e. the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering, strongly influenced the assessment. Of these characteristics, the presence or absence of an explicit request was the most important determinant of the decision whether or not to hold an inquest. CONCLUSIONS: Although the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering each influenced the assessment, each individual assessment was dependent on the assessor. The resulting danger of legal inequality and legal uncertainty, particularly in complicated cases, should be kept to a minimum by the introduction of some form of protocol and consultation in doubtful or boundary cases. The notification procedure already promotes a certain degree of uniformity in the prosecution policy. (+info)
Clinical guidelines: proliferation and medicolegal significance.
Guidelines seeking to influence and regulate clinical activity are currently gaining a new cultural ascendancy on both sides of the Atlantic. Statutory agencies may be charged with developing clinical guidelines, and civil courts, in deciding actions in negligence, could be influenced by standards of care expressed in guideline statements. Clinical guidelines are not accorded unchallengeable status: they have been subject to careful scrutiny by British and American courts to establish their authenticity and relevance. In the United States, compliance with clinical guidelines cannot be used as a defence against liability if a physician's conduct is held to have been negligent, and third party organisations can be held liable if their clinical guidelines are found to be a contributory cause of patient harm. Guidelines have not usurped the role of the expert witness in court. The importance the law attaches to customary practice means that atypical or bizarre guidelines are unlikely to be accepted as embodying a legally required standard of clinical care. (+info)
Regulating the private health care sector: the case of the Indian Consumer Protection Act.
Private medical provision is an important constituent of health care delivery services in India. The quality of care provided by this sector is a critical issue. Professional organizations such as the Medical Council of India and local medical associations have remained ineffective in influencing the behaviour of private providers. The recent decision to bring private medical practice under the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA) 1986 is considered an important step towards regulating the private medical sector. This study surveyed the views of private providers on this legislation. They believe the COPRA will be effective in minimizing malpractice and negligent behaviour, but it does have adverse consequences such as an increase in fees charged by doctors, an increase in the prescription of medicines and diagnostics, an adverse impact on emergency care, etc. The medical associations have also argued that the introduction of COPRA is a step towards expensive, daunting and needless litigation. A number of other concerns have been raised by consumer forums which focus on the lack of standards for private practice, the uncertainty and risks of medicines, the effectiveness of the judiciary system, and the responsibility of proving negligence. How relevant are these concerns? Is the enactment of COPRA really appropriate to the medical sector? The paper argues that while this development is a welcome step, we need to comprehensively look into the various quality concerns. The effective implementation of COPRA presumes certain conditions, the most important being the availability of standards. Besides this, greater involvement of professional organizations is needed to ensure appropriate quality in private practice, since health and medical cases are very different from other goods and services. The paper discusses the results of a mailed survey and interview responses of 130 providers from the city of Ahmedabad, India. The questionnaire study was designed to assess the opinion of providers on various implications of the COPRA. We also analyze the data on cases filed with the Consumer Disputes and Redressal Commission in Gujarat since 1991. Four selected cases filed with the National Commission on Consumers Redressal are discussed in detail to illustrate various issues affecting the implementation of this Act. (+info)
Impact of litigation on senior clinicians: implications for risk management.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the impact of litigation on consultants and senior registrars and to establish their views on methods of reducing adverse events and litigation. DESIGN: Postal survey. SETTING: Acute hospitals in the North Thames (West) Regional Health Authority. SUBJECTS: 1011 consultants and senior registrars in acute hospitals. MAIN MEASURES: Perceived causes and effects of adverse events; views on methods of reducing litigation and adverse events. RESULTS: 769 (76%) doctors responded. 288 (37%) had been involved in litigation at some point during their career; 213 surgeons (49%) and 75 (23%) doctors in the medical specialties. Anger, distress, and feeling personally attacked were common responses to litigation. Clinicians' views on reducing litigation emphasised the need for change at the clinical level. Supervision of junior staff, workload, and training in communication skills were to the fore. CONCLUSIONS: The high frequency of doctors who have experienced litigation and the emotional responses described indicate that clinicians require support at several levels. At a personal level, support can be offered to clinicians going through the litigation process or after an adverse event. Also, managerial support is needed by offering financial and practical help in correcting the factors that have been consistently identified as producing high risk situations to minimise the possibility of a reoccurrence. Accidents in medicine are, by their very nature, costly in human and financial terms and the root causes must be tackled. Recommendations are made for clinicians and risk management teams. (+info)
Considerations in pharmaceutical conversion: focus on antihistamines.
The practice of pharmaceutical conversion, which encompasses three types of drug interchange (generic, brand, and therapeutic substitution), is increasing in managed care settings. Pharmaceutical conversion has numerous implications for managed care organizations, their healthcare providers, and their customers. Although drug cost may be a driving consideration in pharmaceutical conversion, a number of other considerations are of equal or greater importance in the decision-making process may affect the overall cost of patient care. Among these considerations are clinical, psychosocial, and safety issues; patient adherence; patient satisfaction; and legal implications of pharmaceutical conversion. Patient-centered care must always remain central to decisions about pharmaceutical conversion. This article discusses the issues related to, and implications of, pharmaceutical conversion utilizing the antihistamines class of drugs as the case situation. (+info)
Reducing malpractice risk through more effective communication.
This activity is designed for physicians, health plan administrators, and other providers. GOAL: To help physicians, health plan administrators, and other providers learn more about the relationship between provider communication behaviors and subsequent negligence litigation and learn how to reduce malpractice risk through improving communication behaviors. OBJECTIVES: 1. To describe research findings concerning the relationship between provider communication behaviors and subsequent claims of negligence. 2. To describe the major interviewing deficiencies that have been identified as precipitants of malpractice litigation. 3. To describe three functions of effective interviewing. 4. To describe training and learning methods that can improve provider-patient relationships, leading to improved clinical outcomes and decreased malpractice risk. (+info)
Costs, true costs, and whose costs in economic analyses in medicine?
Cost-effectiveness analyses of clinical practices are becoming more common in the development of health policy. However, such analyses can be based on misconceptions and flawed assumptions, leading to flawed policies. We argue that such is the case with the recent recommendations for routine measurement of umbilical cord gases at delivery, a policy based on the assumption that this clinical strategy will pay for itself by reduced malpractice awards. As we demonstrate, this argument reflects the physician's perspective, not that of society or of patients. It also ignores the fact that malpractice awards are largely transfer payments, not cost of healthcare. (+info)