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Patient fatality case raises dispute about penalties

People who live in New York and are concerned about the risk of being impacted by a medical error should feel safe that if such a problem were to happen to them, it might be properly reported. Patients and their family member should also feel that they will be properly compensated after a medical mistake and that appropriate actions will be taken to prevent similar errors from happening again. In some people's minds, these actions may include punishments for the medical staff involved.

Whether or not to punish health care professionals who make mistakes appears to be front and center in the debate that has launched after a nurse has been criminally charged in the death of an elderly patient. As reported by National Public Radio, the nurse not only administered the wrong drug to a patient but bypassed safety processes that were in place in order to get the incorrect drug from the machine it was stored in.

Groups including the American Nurses' Association are speaking out against the actions taken after the nurse has been charged with abuse and reckless homicide in the matter. They are insisting that by prosecuting medical staff in cases like this where no mal intent was found to have been involved, society may actually be causing more harm than good. This is because they believe such prosecution will hamper future reporting of medical errors.

This case is highlighting a divide in which some people want to hold accountable those who make errors, especially fatal errors, while others want to protect them in the name of future safety.



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