A report from the United Press International last December 19, 2007 reveals that between 2000 and 2006, there has been a significant increase in the number of serious reprimands for dangerous conditions among nursing homes in the United States. The report indicates that part of the reason to the increase is the rigorous enforcement of activities in handling patients. It has also been reported that citations of physical or sexual abuse of patients as well as insufficient medication have a significant role in the increase (Barbee, 1991).
The issue of the increase in the number of serious reprimands has a strong relationship with the nature, sources and functions of the law. The increase in the number of causes for the serious reprimands have a large share in analyzing the legal measures relevant to the reprimands and preventive measures taken. If the number of causes are decreased or totally removed, then there is strong reason to believe that the reprimands will also be loosened as much as the situation requires.
The known way for putting a decline to these reprimands is through the law. Apparently, the law does not only look after the serious reprimands; it also looks after the causes for these reprimands as we shall see (Barbee, 1991). Analysis In its entirety, the law seeks to provide security for the welfare of the people. It does not seek to promote an unfair advantage nor does it seek to jeopardize the lives of individuals regardless of age or gender.
A large number of patients in nursing homes are the elderly who are nearing the dawn of their lives. Given their physical status, one cannot find it reasonable to handle the elderly with rashness or with rigorous enforcement of activities (Murtaugh, Kemper and Spillman, 1990). On the contrary, the elderly should receive TLC—tender, loving care. If there are no existing laws which specifically sanctions these behaviors, then it is about time that the legislative agenda of the nation include concerns for the elderly in nursing homes.
Moreover, should the law zero-in on the issue pertaining to the handling of the elderly in nursing homes, the law should make clear any exclusion to the rule or other exceptions that may be granted. Otherwise, the legal sanctions may apply to cases which may not necessarily be attributed with the intention of causing more harm than doing any good to the elderly patient. For instance, the law should make it clear that there are cases where the family of the patient decides to give the employees or doctors of the nursing hospital full control of the situation of the patient (“Serious nursing home violations rise,” 2007).
In certain extreme cases where the patient is unable to make rational decisions and where the family has very minimal or little knowledge on what best suits the patient, doctors are given the power to decide what is best for the patient. In this process, it is not impossible that the patient may be harmed. The law should also acknowledge the fact that there are also cases where the patients themselves are the cause of the harm that they experience.
As hospital administrators, however, the employees and staff of the nursing hospitals have the responsibility to ascertain that the patients are safe from external harm and from harming themselves. Yet the probability of instances where patients cause harm to themselves is not far behind. For the law to address these possibilities, it should be narrow enough to pin down precise cases yet broad enough to encompass cases where negligence on the part of the hospital administrators can be charged and filed as a peripheral case (Barbee, 1991).
Further, the law should also be clear in defining the terms involved, such as what counts as ‘rigorous enforcement of activities’ or what is to be classified as ‘proper nursing care for patients’. Although interpretation of the law, especially during court proceedings, has become integral in the due process of the law, it cannot be the case that there can be no coherent interpretation of what the law and its sanctions imply or the reasons why laws for nursing homes were or will be created.
On the contrary, the very fact that a law is created indicates that it has its purpose, and legislators of such a law most likely know the purposes behind the legislation of these laws. Unless the very purpose of the law regarding the treatment patients receive in nursing homes become clearly defined or sufficiently explicated, several inconsistencies and vague pronouncements are most likely to follow (Murtaugh, Kemper and Spillman, 1990). Why is there the rigorous enforcement of activities in handling patients in nursing homes in the first place?
There are many factors that can be considered. First, it can be the case that the staff of the nursing home may be new and unfamiliar with the ethics in professionally handling the needs and medications of the patients. Second, the employees may have a limited knowledge on the physical condition of the patient or on the sickness of the patient. Third, the records of the patients may have indicated that the patient needs certain types of activities without specifying the frequency of the activity.
Lastly, the nursing home might be lacking in terms of advanced medical equipment and other medical machines. And to compensate for such a ‘lack’, the nursing home administrators may have reverted to increasing the amount of activities above normal (“Serious nursing home violations rise,” 2007). Why is there a need for laws which cover sanctions for certain ways of handling patients at nursing homes? Part of the reason to this is the observation that there are nursing home employees who take advantage of their patients in many ways; one having been reported is physical or sexual abuse.
The laws provide a means not only to proscribe certain behaviors from nursing home employees but, more importantly, to draw the fine line between professionalism and abuse of work responsibilities. Conclusions and further remarks It is a fact that a number of laws are first proposed in the legislative body of the government. But even more basic to this is the fact that a number of these proposals come from the demands of the people such groups that as lobby for laws which can directly affect their cause (Barbee, 1991).
Certain tends in the contemporary society can also prompt the legislative body of the government to create laws which address these trends. For instance, the massive boom of immigration in earlier times led numerous countries to pass laws which control immigration of individuals. As for the increase in the number of cases pertaining to the rigorous enforcement of activities in handling patients, it is no wonder that there has been a corresponding increase in the number of serious reprimands for dangerous conditions among nursing homes.
The United Press International report divulges the critical increase in the number of serious reprimands for dangerous conditions among nursing homes in America (“Serious nursing home violations rise,” 2007). The rigorous enforcement of activities in handling patients has an undeniable contribution in the increase although what remains debatable is the question of whether the existing laws have enough coverage over the ways in which nursing home employees take care of their patients.
The citations of physical or sexual abuse of patients as well as insufficient medication are clear indicators that the problem in nursing homes is real and requires attention from the legislative body of the government. The nature, sources and functions of the law have a role to fit in the case of the patients situated in many nursing homes in the country. The increasing number of patients in nursing homes is perhaps the strongest indicator that, while the nation may lack solid efforts in surmounting patient-related incidents of harm, the law is yet to efficiently and effectively be put into action.
References Serious nursing home violations rise. (2007). Retrieved January 20, 2008, from http://www. upi. com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/12/19/serious_nursing_home_violations_rise/9034/ Barbee, G. C. (1991). The Nurse, the Nursing Home, and the Law. The American Journal of Nursing, 61(8), 84-86. Murtaugh, C. M. , Kemper, P. , & Spillman, B. C. (1990). The Risk of Nursing Home Use in Later Life. Medical Care, 28(10), 952-962.