Patient Safety – Who Decides?
Patient safety is a modern medical discipline that draws attention to the documentation, investigation, and prevention of medical blunders or miscalculations that can result to serious harm to patients. It is a fundamental tenet of health care because it can defeat the very essence of healthcare. Instead of curing illness or promoting health, medical practice can worsen the health condition of a patient or even cause greater harm. Patient safety had evolved as a new discipline especially because to prevent medical malpractice and to stress that there also exist certain degree of inherent risk or danger in the medical practice especially during surgical operations. Besides, doctors and nurses are not gods who are infallible. They are equally humans who are susceptible to commit mistakes.
One of the major dilemmas when in it comes to patient safety is the question of “who decides?” Is it doctor who theoretically knows better because it is within his field of expertise? Is it the patient who may know better by virtue of the fact that he/ she is in a better position to measure one’s safety based on one’s experience of pain and because of the fact that he/ she owns the corporeal body that is subjected to medical operation? Is it the family or relatives who may be in a better position to be objective on the issue because they are not directly involved? They are neither the one who will operate nor the one to be operated.
There is really no single person who can categorically decide about patient safety. There should be a close coordination and consultation among the stakeholders of a particular life. This means that the doctor, the patient and the family/relatives should all be consulted in order to come up with a decision. In most instances, it is the patient’s decision that is followed. In some instances, it
is the relatives’ decision who shall bear financial burden for hospitalization. In both instances, the doctor’s expert yet neutral advice is solicited. This is really the best way to decide who decides, because all of us are humans, liable to make mistakes and incapable of foreseeing fortuitous events. The truth is nobody has the right to decide. Human life is a gift we do not own. It is given by our
creator who really makes the final decision of what will happen to it.
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