Yes, I agree with AMA general counsel Johnson’s implication that if the element of willfulness and knowledge is found on a death caused by a misdiagnosis, then a murder charge can be brought against physicians who led to a death of a patient. If there is evidence linking the physician to negligence or carelessness, which led to the death of a patient, the physician should face legal action (Pozgar ; Santucci, 2016). If it was an honest mistake, which could be prevented, the patient may proceed to take legal action against the physician. Misdiagnosis may lead to serious health issues and even death of the patient. Taking legal measures on these doctors will prevent more problems by other doctors as the number one contributor of misdiagnosis are due to negligence which may be prevented if the right measures are implemented and there are consequences for misdiagnosis (Pozgar ; Santucci, 2016).
The physician should not be held liable if harm is caused through negligence due to overwork or inattention. This is because the healthcare profession has indicated the right rate of physicians to patients (Brazier ; Ost, 2013). This rate was determined to enable the physicians to perform their roles and responsibilities adequately and efficiently. If a physician has more than the required number of patients to attend to, the chances of errors is increased which is not his/her fault as human beings are prone to make mistakes if overloaded with work (Brazier ; Ost, 2013). The physician’s intentions are good which are to provide healthcare services to patients, which are aimed to improve their health status. Other necessary resources should be provided by the healthcare facility or the government and any negative outcome due to the lack of the required resources should not be pinned on the physician (Brazier & Ost, 2013).
Other professions whose members might be liable for similar charges as the physicians include the insurance profession (Pozgar, 2016). For patients to access some of the healthcare services through their insurance covers, there are sometimes complex procedures, which may lead to deterioration of the health status of the patients, and sometimes the insurance providers may decline to cover certain health care services (Pozgar, 2016). The insurance providers should face legal measures if patients die or their health status deteriorate due to negligence or slow processing of the patient’s documents (Pozgar, 2016). Insurance providers owe certain responsibilities to the patient, any breach of these responsibilities should be termed as negligence, and legal consequences should follow. This will enable the insurance providers to explain to their consumers on the exact healthcare services to be covered and the process of accessing their funds in case of emergencies (Pozgar, 2016).
If I were a member of a jury hearing a case of negligent homicide against a physician for a medical misdiagnosis, I would have preconceptions about the medical profession, which might influence my verdict. This is because of the complexity of the medical practice, which may involve a sophisticated process of providing proof to provide information related to the legal process (Forrester ; Griffiths, 2011). This is because the medical error may be directed to the healthcare facility or a malfunction of a health system, which may be difficult to ascertain and proof. The medical profession is very complex and cases of misdiagnosis are not easy to point out as other homicide cases. The law should be specific in addressing misdiagnosis cases as most of the cases are not because of an intent by the physicians (Forrester ; Griffiths, 2011).
Brazier, M., ; Ost, S. (2013). Medicine and bioethics in the theatre of the criminal process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Forrester, K., ; Griffiths, D. (2011). Essentials of Law for Medical Practitioners. Mosby Australia.
Pozgar, G. D. (2016). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Burlington, MA: Jones ; Bartlett Learning.
Pozgar, G. D., ; Santucci, N. M. (2016). Legal aspects of health care administration. Burlington, MA: Jones ; Bartlett Learning.