Healthcare managers are often challenged by a perplexing range of legal issues that typically make them feel as if they need a telephone hotline for a multispecialty law practice. Everyone seeks justice in the end, but when a conflict exists, not everyone sees justice in the same way.
It is worthwhile to recognize the functions of lawyers, judges, and juries. The basic job of a lawyer is to represent the client or, as the old gangster movies put it, to be their mouthpiece.
The lawyer must understand the facts of the case, clarify the disputed legal issues, and research these issues and facts in order to present them in the light that is most favorable for their client. The judge is responsible for deciding issues of law and the rules that apply to a case; the jury is responsible for deciding issues of fact, essentially, whose side of the truth to accept.
Torts are civil wrongs that utilize the judicial process to right the wrong. The basic idea behind tort law is that of making an innocent victim whole again (and much of the legal argument is often centered on how innocent the innocent victim really is). To make the victim whole, the system allocates blame and then uses economic damages as a way to right the situation.
The most significant tort affecting the healthcare industry is malpractice, which is essentially medical or healthcare negligence. What exactly is negligence? Simply stated, it is a behavior that does not meet a legal standard. The fundamental idea in negligence is that a person must act as a reasonable and prudent person would act under the same or similar circumstances. In terms of action, the courts are always looking for foreseeable or predictable behavior.
Behavior or action that is outside of the realm of predictability is usually dubbed an accident and not negligence.
Contracts are agreements between two or more parties to do something or to refrain from doing something. Like everything in the law, there are requirements for contracts: was there an offer? Was there an acceptance of the offer? Was there a meeting of the minds? Were there considerations? Was the consideration adequate? Where there reasons why the contract is not valid? There are countless cases, rules, and regulations for each of these questions and more.
It is astounding when organizations consider how many contracts they have, Contracts permeate every sector of a healthcare organization.