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MEDA205 Medical Law And Ethics Questions: The Case Of Jeanette And The Phone Call Jeanette, an 80-year-old widow, called her physician early one morning complaining of shortness of breath. She spoke to the office receptionist who asked if she was having any other difficulty. Jeanette said no. The receptionist said she would give the message to the doctor. The doctor’s office was extremely busy that October day giving out flu shots. The receptionist immediately became busy answering tele-phone calls and admitting a long line of patients waiting for their annual flu shot. The telephone message from Jeanette was left unnoticed on the front office desk for several hours and was then placed on the physician’s desk with other messages. Jeanette became so exhausted from her shortness of breath that she fell asleep. When she awoke in the afternoon she could not catch her breath. She called her neighbor and just said, “Help.” Paramedics arrived at Jeanette’s home shortly after the neighbor called 911 and found Jeanette to be unresponsive. She was taken to the local emergency room where she was diagnosed and treated for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. The emergency room staff tried to determine who her personal physician was, but Jeanette had no personal belongings or medical information with her. She never regained consciousness and died that evening. When her neighbor went over to Jeanette’s home that evening to feed the cat, she noticed the light on the phone’s answering machine. The doctor had returned Jeanette’s call at 5:00 P.M. She apologized for not calling sooner. Task: 1. Do you believe that this case presents a legal or an ethical problem or both? 2. In your opinion, is anyone at fault for Jeanette’s death? 3. Is the physician at fault? Is anyone on the physician’s staff at fault? 4. What could have been done to prevent this problem?  Answers: 1. The case of Jeanette presents ethical and legal problem. On the legal perspectives it can be said that it is the right of every American to receive fair healthcare based on the urgency of the situation and physical health complications (Maruthappu, Ologunde & Gunarajasingam, 2013). However, in case of Jeanette, this legal rights was bridged as she failed to receive fair treatment based on her health urgency. In case of Jeanette the two ethical domains that has been bridged include beneficence and non-maleficence. Beneficence vouches for immediate treatment of the patient via preventing harm. In the ground of non-maleficence, it is the duty of the nurse not to neglect the condition of Jeanette via attending the flue patients. This is because, as depending on her age and her symptoms, her presented complaint might turn into serious condition (Aacharya, Gastmans & Denier, 2011). 2. As per my opinion, it is the fault of the office receptionist as she failed to understand the emergency of the problem. She became occupied with her daily work pressure and forgot to inform the doctor on time and this delayed the entire condition. 3. The physician cannot directly be held responsible for the extreme outcome of Jeanette. This is because, the office receptionist place the information of Jeanette along with the piles of other information. Had the office receptionist present the case immediately upon the arrival of doctor then the doctor might have worked accordingly as he was the best person to understand the urgency of the situation. 4. It would be the duty of the receptionist to enquire the symptoms of Jeanette in details keeping her age (80 years into consideration. Following a detailed follow, it would be the duty of the receptionist to inform the doctor immediately over phone so that he might visit Jeanette on his way to clinic (Aacharya, Gastmans & Denier, 2011). References Aacharya, R. P., Gastmans, C., & Denier, Y. (2011). Emergency department triage: an ethical analysis. BMC emergency medicine, 11(1), 16. Maruthappu, M., Ologunde, R., & Gunarajasingam, A. (2013). Is health care a right? Health reforms in the USA and their impact upon the concept of care. Annals of Medicine and Surgery, 2(1), 15-17.

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