As an intern at Good Shepherd Hospice and a licensed master's Social worker, the intervention which I was involved in was my encounter with a female patient who told me that she felt neglected in the 24-hour facility that she receives care. The patient has liver cancer and congestive heart failure. As social workers in that facility, our primary concerns were the food she ate, handling her from the bed to bathroom and vice versa, as well as skin care. The female patient had skin abrasions under her arms and thighs. The first precaution that all social workers took at the facility to avoid allegations of negligence and malpractice was to advise her to call whenever she needed to go to the bathroom and when she was done. Also, we did not give her a food selection. Instead, the facility decided to give her a bowl of chips as a replacement for a bowl of fruits. Due to the fact that the patient is in hospice care, all social workers at our facility ensured that patients are comfortable and receive palliative care.
Social workers should adhere to their code of ethics and avoid being negligent while handling patients. According to the National Association of Social Workers (2016), an early identification of issues within the hospice facility can help social work staff to prioritize stuff that may affect patients. For instance, social workers at our facility always monitor patients three times a day to know their well-being. Apparently, it is mandatory for them to do so to endorse continuum of care. Even so, according to the Legal Information Institute (n.d), the US code 7316 on the subject of negligence and malpractice indicates that in cases of damages or personal injury, which arises from negligence or misconduct from a health care employee, civil action will be taken immediately. Patient safety should be social workers number one priority. Additionally, social workers have to participate in quality improvement initiatives within their hospital to strengthen their services and improve clients outcome (National Association of Social Workers, 2016). On the real sense, these are concerns that every social worker should in their time of duty.
Social workers have to make decisions in regards to their professional boundaries, delivery of services, and value conflicts. If they do so, chances of being named in a malpractice suit will reduce significantly. As Gartwait (2014) avows, social workers are obliged to conduct themselves based on their values, ethical standards, and relevant laws. More so, the Council on Social Work Education (2008) indicates that the core competencies of a social worker should be knowledge, values, and skills, which are consistent with the mission and goals of the health care facility. More to the point, they add that social workers have to commit themselves to the professions improvement as well as their proficient manner and progression. Types of practice situations that could give rise to an allegation of wrongdoing or professional negligence would be the failure to communicate, adhere to patient confidentiality, assess and monitor patients as well as the inability to follow standards of care. As a social worker intern in a field placement, I ensure that I follow written procedures, protocols, and adhere to Good Shepherd policies. In general, social workers have to stay compliant with their practice act, facilitys practices, and appropriate standards that are related to their area of practice.
Council on Social Work Education. (2008). Purpose: Social Work Practice, Education, and Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Retrieved from http://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Standards-and-Policies/2008-EPAS/2008EDUCATIONALPOLICYANDACCREDITATIONSTANDARDS(EPAS)-08-24-2012.pdf.aspx
Garthwait, C. (2014). The social work practicum: A guide and workbook for students. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Legal Information Institute. (n.d). 38 U.S. Code 7316 - Malpractice and negligence suits: defense by United States. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/38/7316
National Association of Social Workers. (2016). NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWHealthCareStandards.pdf
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