Healthcare law and ethics

Published: 2019-10-07 06:39:57
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The employment-at-will concept means that worker can be fired for any reason and at any time with only a few legal exceptions. As such, an employer can terminate at-will employees without incurring legal liability (Harcourt, Hannay & Lam, 2013). Likewise, as the authors purport, the worker can leave employment at any time and for no reason without adverse legal consequences. For this reason, this type of arrangements offers flexibility for employers and employees. In my opinion, the concept is favorable as it provides a provision for employees to quit and join even better jobs, and can relocate for more plentiful and promising work opportunities. However, in instances when the worker does not have any other options, it offers immense job insecurity. Therefore, it has its pros and cons. It is beneficial for employers as they can get rid of difficult or under-performing personnel without facing any possible lawsuits. However, it can lead to job instability when a performing worker decides to quit without notice. On the part of employees, they can lose a well-paying job any tie, thereby predisposing them to unnecessary unemployment. However, it also presents them with an opportunity to accept employment offers from other firms without geography restrictions or period of waiting. As such, the concept offers an equal measure of benefits and demerits on employees and employers.

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Muhl (2001) presents three major exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine. Firstly, the public-policy exception protects employees from wrongful dismissal, particularly when the termination is against a well-established and explicit state public policy. For instance, as Muhl (2001) points out, in most US States, an employee has no right of terminating an employee for filing a compensation claim after he or she is injured while performing job duties. For instance, North Carolina protected its employees on these grounds as of October 2001. Many states recognize this exception, and thus, a firing should not violate any accepted state or federal statute or public policy as it is wrongful. Another example is that an employer cannot fire a worker for opposing or exposing criminal activities as it violates most of the public policies. The second exception, implied-contract, is applied in instances when the employer and employee enter into an implied contract, even though written document regarding such a relationship. In this type of exception, even though the employer does not make any contract, he may make written or oral representations concerning job security or procedures that should be followed when adverse employment are taken. Under court rulings, implied contracts are equal to contracts, and therefore, they will find them based on direct statements from employee handbooks or employers (Muhl, 2001). As the author points out, these statements may define what procedures should be taken upon termination, and should be followed for it to be lawful. Lastly, the covenant-of-good-faith exception, as Mohl (2001) articulates, dictates that the employers decisions are subject to just cause standard, or in simple terms, firings motivated by malice or in bad faith are unlawful. Therefore, all terminations must be based on good cause, but only 11 States recognizes this exception. North Carolina does not recognize it.

Parents can legally withhold life-saving treatments on certain specific conditions. For instance, as pointed out by Woods (2003) in HCA, Inc v Miller, parents enjoy a constitutional right decision-making concerning their childrens welfare and care as dictated by their consciences. In the case, the parents had the right to withhold life-sustaining treatment for their child, Sydney, but only if the child is in a terminal condition. Since the child was not terminally ill, the case was in favor of HCA. In another case, as Elton et al. (1995) present, particularly in Case A, the parents being Jehovahs Witnesses, had the right to prevent transfusion in treating their 10-month old baby from acute lymphoblastic lymphoma as their beliefs barred transfusion, but the hospital went ahead and administered the procedure. In both instances, the parents right was withheld to protect the interests of the child, and thus, their right can be disregarded in certain situations.

Patients have legal and ethical rights and responsibilities. For instance, in Case C of Elton et al. (1995) study, the hospital had the ethical responsibility of receiving age-appropriate care and education. Since she was 16-years old, she had the right to refute any advances to conduct an MRI to ascertain whether her anorexic condition was due to organic or psychological causes. She had the right to access hospital services, receive medical care, have her values respected, receive clear communication, and participate in the decisions about her care, which the hospital ethically presented. However, due to an underlying fear of the MRI procedure, she refuted its implementation even after the hospital and parents supported it. To show her disregard for the procedure, she refused to eat, but as the court ruled, it was in best interest to feed her, even by using force. She had legal grounds to object it, however, after the court ruling and after being informed of the procedure, she accepted. As such, she had legal rights, unless proved otherwise, to object any procedure performed on her.

Lastly, law and healthcare interact in various areas. For instance, during the setting healthcare laws, these disciplines interact. In setting healthcare compliance, laws are necessary. Laws are involved in setting manufacturing, drug sales and marketing, and diagnostics criteria. If any of these laws are broke, then the perpetrator will break the law, which is subject to a court hearing. As such, another area where law and healthcare interact is in courts, where rulings are made based on the laws the perpetrator broke.

References

Elton, A., Honig, P., Bentovim, A., & Simons, J. (1995). Withholding consent to lifesaving treatment: three cases. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 310(6976), 373.

Harcourt, M., Hannay, M., & Lam, H. (2013). Distributive justice, employment-at-will and just-cause dismissal. Journal of business ethics, 115(2), 311-325.

Muhl, C. (2001). The Employment-at-Will Doctrine: Three Major Exceptions. Monthly Labor Review, 4, 3-4.

Woods, M. (2003). Overriding Parental Decision to Withhold Treatment.Virtual Mentor, 5(8).

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