The government is endowed with the responsibility of protecting citizens from any form of exploitation by making rules and laws that govern them. The laws have been made to cover almost all essential aspects of human activities. It is usually expected that the citizens be personally aware of the legal laws that surround their daily activities to ensure that they are protected. This paper will focus on some of the legal issues that surround health care and the ability of the patient to consent to any major operation. There will also be a discussion on the legal liabilities of the medical practitioners in case they fail to produce the desired results for the patients. Special reference will be made on a case study of a doctor who performs surgery on a fifteen-year-old girl without obtaining consent from her parents.
It is legally unacceptable for any doctor to carry out any medical treatment on a patient without obtaining their consent or the consent of those that are closely related to them. The law clarifies the ability of a patient to personally consent to any medication. Children under the age of eighteen are considered immature to consent to any medical treatment. This is because it is assumed that their young mind cannot make them figure out what is right or wrong.
The doctors are hence required to obtain the consent of their parents or guardians before performing any operation. However, some of the written codes may be subject to challenge especially on what they are based on. The main reason why they categorize individuals less than eighteen years as immature is because of their level of exposure. From the description that has been given about the fifteen-year-old girl, it is clear that his IQ is higher than that of a fifteen-year-old. She may hence be premature according to the legal laws of consent but his mind is mature enough to make decisions. There is also the aspect of her ability to cater for her medical services which may have rendered her parental consent unimportant.
When addressing such a case in the court of law, many factors will have to be considered apart from the age of the girl and her ability to cater for her medical expenses. The doctors are not in any way required to act in the capacity of lawyers to determine whether the patient can consent to an operation or not. Their service towards the patient is based on what the law requires of them. The doctor in the mentioned case may have mainly considered the ability of the girl to take care of her medical expenses and ignored her age issue (Forrester, 2010).
The parents of the girl at this juncture would have legally sued the doctor for carrying out surgery on their young daughter without obtaining consent from them. The court on the other hand would have looked at all the factors that surround the case on whether the girl was legally able to consent considering her financial ability and intelligence quotient.
There was also a case whereby Registered Nurse Ethical Practise’s services were terminated from the hospital basically because she refused to prepare Mary for the operation room. This was after she realized that Mary had not obtained consent from her parents for the operation to take place. The nurse had a legal right to sue the CEO of the hospital based on the fact of unfair dismissal. The nurse acted in her knowledge of the law and decided not to be illegally involved in an illegal exercise.
Looking at the scenario in the hospital, we realize that the management is more inclined to the income rather than offering quality services to the patients. The CEO, who seems to be easily intimidated, is more concerned about having funds that will enable the hospital to run efficiently. The CEO must have trusted the competence of Doctor Genius which made him agree to every decision that she made. He was probably not ready to lose the hospital clients that came to benefit from the services of Doctor Genius. The confidence that the CEO had in the doctor prompted him to suck anybody that was not ready and willing to cooperate with her.
There was also the issue of negligence that was raised by Mary after the operation had been done. There is a certain kind of appearance that Mary was expecting to see after the operation. She trusted the surgical expertise of Doctor Genius which made her give up all the money for the results. Doctor Genius delegated the responsibility to another doctor that Mary had no idea of. Even though the operation was carried out without any issues, the results did not turn out as expected.
This made Mary angry and accused the doctor of not giving her the appearance that she was expecting to have. Mary was legally right to sue the doctor for professional negligence. This is basically because the doctor who performed the surgery was not the one that Mary was expecting to handle the procedure. She trusted Doctor Genius to facilitate the facial changes that she needed. The case would have been however different if Doctor Genius carried out the operation and still failed to produce satisfactory results.
When Mary expressed his dissatisfaction with her appearance and threatened to sue the doctor for negligence, she said that the work was successful according to the contract that was signed and was hence supposed to pay (United States, Dept. of Justice, 2007). In consideration of this, there is a high possibility that Mary consented to a contract that she had no idea about its details. She mainly relied on the information that she heard about the doctor and her expertise to carry out cosmetic surgery and her need for a new facial appearance. She may have seen the necessity of understanding the terms through which the surgery was to be carried out and believed that she will experience the desired results.
On the other hand, Doctor Genius may be sued for not clarifying to Mary the terms and conditions through which the surgery was to be performed and the level at which the agreement was binding to her. The doctor will be answerable to such a case considering that she was fully aware of Mary’s incapacity to consent to the surgery and the fact that the parents had not consented to the same.
In consideration of what occurred to Mary and the consequences that she had to face, it will be legally concluded that she was not in the capacity to consent to the surgery. Even though she had all the money to cater for the medical expenses and the fact that her IQ was high, she was not mature enough to understand the legal issues that surrounded her health. However, she may not be blamed by the court for the decisions that she made considering that she was underage.
First and foremost, Doctor Genius will be questioned on why she accepted a surgery to be carried out on a girl that was under the age of eighteen years old. Doctors are not above any law and are supposed to incline to the legal requirements of their profession. The second thing that Doctor Genius will be questioned on is not explaining to her client the level at which she was bound by the contract that she signed (Bielby, 2008). Her client consented to a surgical contract which she did not understand its details. It is the responsibility of the doctors to inform their patients of the details of the operation that they are about to undertake and any side effects that may come with it.
This is usually done to prepare their clients for the results and also enable them to reconsider whether the decision is worth making or not. The entire hospital management and especially the CEO will also be answerable to the court on why he allowed such an operation to take place without following legal health requirements. This will be considered as foul play between the company management and Doctor Genius who were more concerned about their returns and not for the good of the patient. Their prosecution will be backed by the fact that a nurse was fired simply because she did not agree to cooperate with the hospital team on administering treatment to Mary.
Bielby, P., (2008). Competence and Vulnerability in Biomedical Research. London: siege publishing.
Forrester, K., (2010). Essentials of Law for Health Professionals. Australia: Elsevier Australia.
United States, Dept. of Justice, (2007). Improving health care a dose of competition. New York: DIANE Publishing.