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Healthcare and law are two fields that are intricately entwined in our nation. There are many ways in which law and healthcare interact and affect one another. Those who work in the field of healthcare must also have some knowledge of the laws that govern their work.
Personal Injury and Malpractice Lawsuits
The first legal interaction between law and healthcare is the personal injury lawsuit or the malpractice lawsuit. Many personal injury cases involve bodily injury, and many of the damages collected in such a lawsuit are for medical expenses. A malpractice lawsuit, which targets a healthcare provider specifically, involves a great deal of healthcare knowledge in order to prove that the professional was negligent in their duties.
The Rights and Responsibilities of Patients and Doctors
The second legal interaction is in terms of patient rights and treatment and the requirement of doctors to provide certain treatments. This extends to children as well, and can come into conflict with certain religious beliefs or other beliefs about medicine. A good example is when a child is diagnosed with cancer and the parents refuse the recommended treatment options. That child has a legal right to treatment, and in many cases the parent’s rights can be overruled, forcing them to comply with treatment. The doctors also have an ethical and legal responsibility to provide only treatments they believe will be effective and to follow certain protocols despite any personal beliefs. Adult patients, however, have the right to refuse any treatment they do not agree with and seek any alternative.
The Affordable Care Act and Insurance
The Affordable Care Act brought many changes to the healthcare industry from a legal perspective. The new laws primarily concern insurance coverage, including how individuals get insurance. It also carries over into business law, such as with the rights of employees and the expectations of employers, according to Nolo. For example, businesses with over a certain number of employees are now required to provide a healthcare plan to all of their employees. Those with preexisting conditions can also no longer be turned down for health insurance. Their rights have essentially been expanded.
Healthcare professionals can benefit from an expanded knowledge of the laws that affect their work. Both industries can benefit from professionals that understand their legal obligations and the rights of patients, hospitals and staff members. This knowledge may lower the incidents of violations due to ignorance and decrease the overall legal costs of the healthcare industry. If you are interested in the legal aspects of the health care industry, you can join the process with a Master of Science in Health Law from NOVA and other accredited institutions.
There are many advantages to melding the knowledge of law and healthcare. While medical professionals do not need to become lawyers, they should maintain a working knowledge of the legal implications of their field. A violation of rights or procedures can have serious consequences, and there is an abundance of lawyers waiting to pounce on any legal mistake made by a healthcare professional.
About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica Oaks loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.