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Law and Ethics in Non Emergency Patient Transport

Since the proliferation of Non Emergency Patient Transport in the late 1990’s there had been an increased call to set minimum standards for the industry. In 2003 the Victorian State Government passed the Non Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003 (Huggins and Shugg, 2008, para 11) state that “In October 2003, the State Parliament passed the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003. …” A section of this act directly relates to the welfare comfort privacy and respectful treatment of the patients. s 64 of the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003 (Vic) To comply with this regulation it is crucial for the Non Emergency Patient Transport practitioner to have a professional comprehension of law and ethics and how they relate to the Non Emergency Patient Transport industry. One of the most fundamental areas of law and ethics is consent. For the Non Emergency Patient Transport practitioner to treat and transport a patient, they must have an understanding of consent and refusal.

Consent in Emergency and Non Emergency services is ethically of fundamental importance. In seeking consent, Non Emergency Patient Transport personnel must respect the right of the individual to exercise their will in making an informed decision, and excepting the responsibility of that decision. (Steer, 2007, para 3) states that. “…To seek, obtain and acknowledge the consent of a person is to respect that person…” For consent to be valid it must be informed, understood, voluntary and made by a person with legal capacity. In a situation where a third party calls for transport, cooperation implies consent. For Non Emergency Patient Transport personnel, they need to be not only clinically competent, but also ethically and legally competent to gain consent. Therefore there will be no charge of, or perception of negligence.

The centre of negligence is a failure to meet the standards of the time. There are three critical elements that surround a negligence action. These are that duty of care was owed, that duty of care was then breached, and that the breach caused reasonably foreseeable harm. (Kennedy, 2009, p.104) states that.”…At the core of negligence is a failure to meet the standards of the time…” In Non Emergency Patient Transport, a duty of care must be considered not only to patients, but also between the healthcare providers and to the public at large. To be careless on the job for whatever reason is grounds for negligence. Duty of care covers things such as health care, Occupational Health and Safety, full disclosure and confidentiality.

At all times, Non Emergency Patient Transport personnel must ensure that Patient information must remain confidential. Only those involved in the care of the patient should be privy to their information. It would be a breach of duty of care to share patient information outside the circle of care, and could potentially lead to a negligence law suit. This is where Non Emergency Patient Transport personnel should be well versed in the ethics surrounding their position.

Within the Non Emergency Patient Transport role, working ethically should be at the forefront of the workers mind. Autonomy, the basis for determining moral responsibility for ones actions, is paramount for all decisions for both the patient and healthcare provider. It is vital that personnel carry the value of do-no-harm with them at all times. This one value will ensure that personnel will always work not only within the law, but also ethically.

Health | Medicine | Law | Rights


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