Patients have suffered injuries at the hands of caregivers. The caregivers are in most cases qualified to practice within the medical field, like nurses. Due to offenses committed against patients, the nurses are required to follow ethics. Some torts are well defined and punishable by law. They include negligence, assault, battery, and false imprisonment. The punishment is meant to discourage the reoccurrence of the same behavior and compensate for the damages (Dearmon 2010, p. 471). Using the scenario given, this paper will identify and show their application.
Definitions of Assault, battery, false imprisonment, and negligence
A tort is an unlawful act committed against another causing them harm. The harmed patient is entitled to compensation. The other purpose of tort is to discourage others from harming patients. Dearmon indicates that tort can be intentional or unintentional. An intentional tort occurs in cases where there was intent to act in a way that would cause injury. An unintentional tort occurs when for instance a nurse harms the patient without a prior objective. It can be an accident or a result of carelessness.
Dearmon (2010, p.472) says that a nurse demonstrates negligence if they do not perform their duties as their profession requires. Guido and Watson (2006) further insist that negligence is performed by disregard when performing tasks that a sane person would perform in a specific situation (p. 72). From training, the nurses are believed to be equipped and ready to give services. When they do not give health care as they were assigned, they can be considered careless, hence negligence.
Guido and Watson (2006) say that an assault can be said to have been committed if the nurse in their conduct threatens to hurt the patient physically, insults them, and handles them offensively. Assault does not include physical conduct, for this reason, resting patients cannot be assaulted (p. 75).
According to Guido and Watson (2006), Battering involves conduct with the patient where the nurse for instance without the permission of a patient gives treatment resulting in injury and against their will. Dearmon (2010) indicates that the nurse commits an offense even if the treatment is of benefit to the patient. Coming into contact with the patient’s belonging is viewed as a form of battery. In some cases, even if there is no injury, what is considered is that the nurse touched them (p.472).
False imprisonment is the withdrawal of a patient’s freedom without legal justification (Guido and Watson 2006, p. 75). In his book, Dearmon (2010) notes that false imprisonment could occur if the patient cannot leave their premise because it is locked, they are tied up in one place, have been injected with drugs that will reduce their movement, and are threatened that action will be taken against them if they leave. False imprisonment is not limited to medical practitioners; family members can also play a role. There are cases that false imprisonment that may be justifiable. Patients who have mental illness are dangerous to the surroundings and themselves. There are legal provisions that are provided by different states and thus the nurse can follow the procedures (p.472).
Case scenario on assault
In the scenario, some torts can be identified. There was an assault committed by the new nurse. Allison the new nurse uses authoritative language to force the patient to elevate the leg in her bed. This behavior makes Ruth, the patient feel offended. After dressing her wound Allison threatens Ruth that in the future the nurse may refuse to come if she continues with her demands. She goes ahead to request the neighbor to assist the old sick woman later. Something that Ruth sees as an intrusion in her home. The neighbours may fail to come making her uncertain how she will manage in her house alone.
Assault is punishable by law even for other offenses outside nursing as Skene (2004, p. 6) mentions. The nurse has to learn to be a good communicator. Most importantly they must learn to listen to patients to know their wishes. In some cases, the patient may just node to accept or reject something. Insults that are used against the patient may have a negative effect. The patient will not be pleased with the services and might be psychologically affected. Instead of becoming hostile and commanding to a patient, the nurse can listen to the patient’s explanation. They can have a negotiation where the nurse will offer the best treatment and still have the patient’s consent. The nurse must have a good relationship with the patient.
Case scenario on Battery
It can be argued that Ruth was battered. Allison was to change the dressing of her wounds using a compression bandage system which she rejects because it causes more pain. Ruth is forced to go to bed where she did not wish for. She had preferred to stay in a chair and rest the leg on a stool.
By Preston (2007), patients need to be informed of any procedure that is done on them and why. The nurse can have a dialogue before administering the treatment. Where patients have complained about a certain treatment, the nurse should look for an alternative. The nurse must consent with the patient and be kind. The battery can result in complications. The patient can place charges. In case the treatment did not benefit the patient, the nurse can be accused of criminal acts (p. 56).
The nurse in charge of a patient is accountable for her well-being. Her actions should be to provide health care while following the best practice and standards. She must also learn to make decisions that would benefit the patient and at the same time remain ethical (Skene 2004, p. 7).
Case scenario on False imprisonment
The new nurse after forcefully taking the sick old woman to bed takes the walking frame and puts them in the hallway. Alison tells her that she should stay there until the neighbor comes in to assist. Ruth eventually needs to go to the bathroom where in the process she falls and gets hurt. Her freedom of movement is taken away.
A patient has the freedom to move. Those giving care should assist the patient and not withdraw their rights. Patients may be exposed to danger when they are denied privileges. Patients can recover quickly because they are not exposed to danger. In the scenario, Ruth was entitled to use her walking frames. They were safe for her since her feet were weak (Preston 2007).
Case scenario on Negligence
Upon realizing that the leg ulcers are in a bad state and swollen, she fails to give proper medical care. This leads to the worsening of the condition considering that she is diabetic. Alison further fails to inform Ruth of the state of her leg ulcers. The swelling, the moist and inflammation are not attended.
Dearmon (2010) reveals that when they are training, the medical personnel are taught the best practices in the medical field to assist patients in their illness. There are standards of giving care that is defined according to skills and knowledge (p. 474). Considering that she was a qualified nurse, Allison was aware that the condition of the wound then needed more care than she gave. Alison carelessly left the patient with a wound that needed further treatment.
The paramedics portray negligence when they depart from the emergency department before handing over the patient. Their plan to have lunch before handing it over makes Ruth stay for long before being attended to.
Skene (2004) indicates that medical procedures are better known by the professional, each in their specialized field. The health of a patient comes first. The paramedics were careless to leave the old sick woman, alone and unattended. Ruth ended up enduring pain while waiting for intervention (p. 6).
To avoid negligence, nurses can form a habit where they follow the nursing standards in giving care. They can also practice good communication with the patients. Additionally, the nurse can document what she performed and observed on the patient. They can also evaluate the condition of the patient and give correct intervention which should be in the best interest of the patient (Kerridge, Lowe, and Stewart, 2009).
Whenever a nurse stands in for another, they should not force the patient in any circumstance. Dearmon (2010) suggests that the nurse can initiate a dialogue that explains the importance of the treatment and other activities which will benefit the patient. The nurse can indicate somewhere so that they cannot be accused of negligence. He emphasizes that patients’ consent must be obtained in every stage of caregiving. Before sending Alison, sally could have notified Ruth if there was an opportunity. Consent can be formal or informal, the patient’s wish must be granted (p. 475).
In conclusion, this paper has identified torts in the scenario. Ruth old and sick was assaulted by Allison the nurse who threatened that nursing services would be terminated if she did not comply with her commands. Another tort is a battery where the nurse dressed the wound with a compressed bandage against her wish. Ruth suffered false imprisonment where the nurse places the walking frame in the hallway so that she could not leave. This led to her injury where she fell and was taken to hospital for treatment. Moreover, negligence is identified. Allison did not give treatment to the moist, swollen, and inflamed leg ulcers. The paramedics also leave the old woman in the emergency department without handing over where she spends hours before being attended to.
There are standards that the nurse can use to correct the offences and avoid causing injury to patients. Good communication skills can be implemented so that the nurse can listen to the patient and also explain the medical procedures. There must be consent from the patient in the process of caregiving. The nurse must document their activities and the progress of the patient.
Dearmon, V. (2010). Risk management and legal issues chapter 15, 471. USA: Jones And Barlett Publishers.
Guido, G, W and Watson, A. (2006). Ethical and Legal Guidelines for Nursing Practice Chapter 4, 66-84. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Kerridge, I., Lowe, M., & Stewart, C. (2009). Ethics and Law for the Health Professions (3rd Ed.). Sydney: Federation Press.
Preston, N. (2007). Understanding ethics, (3rd Ed.). Annandale, NSW: The Federation Press.
Skene, L. (2004). Law and medical practice: rights, duties, claims, and defences (2nd Ed.). Sydney, NSW: Butterworths.