MMHA 6205-1 Health Law and Ethics
Organizational Responsibilities and a Troubled Physician
According to the American Medical Association (AMA) an impaired physician is unable “to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety due to mental illness, physical illness, including but not limited to deterioration through the aging process, or loss of motor skill or excessive use or abuse of drugs, including alcohol” (API, 2011).
The scenario presented for this assignment involves Dr. Smith a talented and skillful cardiac surgeon on staff at a local community hospital, who is currently engaged in a divorce. On multiple incidences, hospital staff members observed Dr. Smith to be intoxicated. On one of these occasions, a nurse observed him the night before he was scheduled to operate, inebriated, and notified her supervisor. On the morning of surgery, Dr. Smith called in sick. There is great concern on the part of the hospital administration that Dr. Smith may perform surgery in an impaired state, noting he recently has made errors during surgery.
A Health care organization’s ultimate responsibility is to the patients it serves, and to make certain that physicians, either employed or privileged, are competent and functioning appropriately while providing quality patient care (Ohlsen, 2006). Under the doctrine of corporate negligence, “the hospital is liable if it fails to uphold the proper standard of care owed the patient, which is to ensure the patient’s safety and well-being while at the hospital” (Pozgar, 2010, p. 242). Hospitals hold certain nondelegable duties unrelated to the negligence an employee may commit. Two nondelegable duties include monitoring the quality of care rendered by the medical staff, and hiring and keeping competent physicians (Pozgar, 2010). Allowing Dr. Smith to operate with the knowledge that he has committed errors during the performance...