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Review: Medical Law and Ethics

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withdrawal by a physician form the care of a patient without reasonable notice or provisions for another equally or better qualified provider to assume care; the physician improperly terminates his or her contract with the patient


wrong or improper use

advance directives

documents signed by the patient and by witnesses stating the patient's wishes for medical care should he or she become incapacitated

age of majority

age at which a person is considered an adult; this is state-dependent, but usually is 18 or 21 years old

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

enacted in 1990, the ASA prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or mental disabilites


touching a person without his or her consent


actions that create benefit or good


moral issues dealing with biologic studies, research, procedures, and decisions


violation of trust

civil law

type of law governing crimes or wrongs committed agains an individual or property, with charges brought forth by the individual or a representative; compensaton (usually monetary) is sought

code of ethics

a statement, usually from a pfrofessional group, stating the expected behaviors of its members

competent adult

a person who has reached the age of majority and is considered of sound mind and not under the influence of drugs or other mind-altering substances


protection of patient informaiton from all but authorized persons


an agreement between two or more parties

criminal law

laws that govern crimes or wrongs committed against society or an individual or property in violation of an ordinance, with charges brought forth by the government; fine or imprisonment can occur


injury to a person's character or reputation by false or malicious statements

emancipated minor

a person who has not reached the age of majority but is living on his or her own and is self-supporting; a minor serving in the armed forces is considered emancipated


a method of licensure through acceptance of a national examination score


moral principles or values or duties

expressd consent

verbal or written approval

fee splitting

a fraudeulent practice in which a physician receives money from another physician solely for referring patients to him or her


practice of meeting patient's rights to competent care, to respect, and to adherence to laws and agreements


an act of deceiving or misrepresenting

implied consent

a patient's permission in which his or her actions indirectly indicate approval

incident report

a form that is usually required when an event occurs in a health care facility that has the potential to result in harm or loss (lawsuits); sometimes called an occurrence report

informed consent

a patient's permission for a procedure, given after receiving all the information necessary to make an educated decision

invasion of privacy

releasing patient information to unauthorized parties without the consent of the patient


equitable distribution of benefits and burdens


a set of rules governing conduct and actions; enforced by recognized authority


false or malicious writing against a person's character or reputation


performance of an improper act, resulting in or causing harm


failure to act, improper performance of that act, or performance of an imporper act by a professional, resulting in or causing harm

Medical Practice Acts

laws established by each state to define medical practice, establish education requirements for physicians, describe licensing and renewal procedures and requirements, determine conditions for revoking or suspending licenses, and prohibit nonqualified individuals with or without a license from practicing medicine


improper performance of an act, resulting in or causing harm


commission or omission of an act that resulted in or cause harm

non compos mentis

not of sound mind


failure to act when there was a duty to act, resulting in or causing harm


actions that void harm

Patient's Bill of Rights

  • a list of reasonable expecations a patient should receive form health care professonals regarding treatment as a patient and as an individual; the lists are published by formal professional groups and health care institutions

quality improvement (QI)

measuring, inproving, and remeasuring patient outcomes based on established criteria or indicators; formerly called quality assurance

quid pro quo

"something for something;" a term generally used in sexual harassment claims, suggesting that career-advancing favors (promotions, raises) would be exchanged for sexual favors


the acceptance by one state of a license that is issued by another state


a process similar to certificaiton in which an individual, after meeting the criteria of an organization (such as passing an exam), is listed on a state or national registry

release of medical records

a form signed by a patient or his or her legal representative allowing a health care provider to give medical information to a person or agency

reportable incidents

events or conditions that, by law, must be reproted to a designated authority

res ipsa loquitur

"the thing speaks for itself;" used to describe obvious cases of negligence

respondeat superior

"let the master answer;" the employer is responsible for the actions of an employee if the employee followed policy and procedure and stayed within the scope of his or her position

risk management

a process to routinely assess, identify, correct, and monitor any potential hazards or risks to prevent harm and loss

scope of practice

performance of duties and procedures allowed by law, standards, and educational preparation


false or malicious verbal statement made against another

standard of care

uniform criterion established by an authority to determine quality or measure of health care or that is recognized as acceptable by usage

statue of limitations

a legal time limit in which a person may file suit or authorities may file charges for a violaiton


a court order requiring an individual to appear in court on a give date and at a specific time

subpoena duces tecum

a court order requiring medical records to be brought to the court on or by a certain date and time


a wrongful civil act committed against an individual for which compensation is sought


collecting higher reimbursement by billing separately for individual components of a procedure rather than for the procedure as a whole


an illegal practice of billing more than indicated or a procedure by selecting a higher than appropriate code



vulnerable populations

a group of people who may be physically or mentally at risk for harm or exploitation