Legal and Ethical Considerations: Safeguarding Employee Rights in the Aftermath of Surgical Negligence

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Safeguarding Employee Rights in the Aftermath of Surgical Negligence

21 Dec    Business, Finance News

When a person falls victim to surgical negligence, it can have a significant impact on their physical and mental health and many don’t feel that they receive the support that they need.

In this article we’re looking at the ways in which employers need to support staff and safeguard employee rights in the aftermath of surgical negligence.

When a patient suffers an injury at the hands of a doctor or surgeon, the battle to secure compensation for surgical negligence is usually only the start of the challenges they face. Many such patients will struggle to cope, often without adequate support.

In this article, we’re looking at the legal and ethical considerations that should be part of an employer’s policy in order to support them.

What is surgical negligence?

This is the term used when harm – either physical or psychological – is caused to a patient during a medical procedure or through having to wait an unreasonable length of time for such a procedure. In some cases, the patient may be entitled to financial compensation following such an incident, if there is evidence that the harm has been caused by a breach of duty by the hospital or surgeon.

Surgical negligence can result in physical injuries, including disability as well as trauma such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Following a surgical negligence injury, a patient may find it difficult to readjust to their life and, in particular, their employment.

Employee rights in the aftermath of surgical negligence

When an employee has suffered an injury due to surgical negligence, there are some measures which an employer must, by law, put in place and we’re look at some of these in this section:

Adjustments to the workplace

If the surgical negligence has resulted in physical challenges or disability, the employer must, under the Equality Act 2010, make adjustments to the workplace and/or the employee’s workstation to ensure that they are able to comfortably complete their duties.

Altering working hours

Within reason, the employer must allow flexibility in working hours, including additional breaks and/or remote working, to prevent further harm to the employee.

Allowing additional time off

When a person is living with a disability or significant physical or mental injury, they will often need to attend medical appointments or counselling. The employer is obliged to allow extra time off for these appointments.

Ethical considerations for employers in the aftermath of surgical negligence

In the previous section, we looked at some of the legal obligations of an employer when it comes to surgical negligence, but ticking these boxes should only be the start. In this section, we’ll take a look at ways in which employers can go the extra mile to support their employees:

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Access to counselling

In 2023, many employers provide access to counselling services as one of their employee benefits, as this is increasingly considered to be a vital part of employee care. Even if this is not offered as standard, an employer may consider making this available to employees who have suffered injury through medical negligence.

A staggered return

Following an injury or trauma, a person will often suffer from fatigue – which can make a full return to work feel overwhelming. Instead, an employer might offer a staggered return, for example, two days a week to begin with, to allow the employee to ease gradually back into their job.

Modification of duties

Following surgical negligence, an employee may not be physically able to complete their former duties. So, where possible, an employer should be prepared to modify these duties or to offer the employee a new role to suit their capabilities.

The consequences for employers

In this article, we’ve covered some of the legal and moral obligations of an employer in terms of a duty of care to staff who have been a victim of surgical negligence. But, what if the employer fails to meet these obligations?

The legal obligations

In the event of an employer failing to meet the legal obligations of their duty toward a disabled or injured employee, the business may be subject to a legal case of discrimination. If found guilty, the business may have to pay the employee a considerable amount of money in compensation, as well as other penalties such as downtime while the correct measures are put in place. The business may also suffer adverse publicity which can be extremely harmful.

The moral obligations

Although a business will not usually be taken to court for not fulfilling moral obligations toward their employees, this doesn’t mean that failing to do so will be without consequence. Adverse publicity and chatter on social media platforms might mean that the business will subsequently lose customers and struggle to attract new employees.

Moving forward together

Suffering an injury or trauma through surgical negligence can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life. It’s often a long journey back to health and wellness.

As an employer, you play a huge role in supporting the employee on this journey by observing not just the measures that are required by law, but also the measures which make your employee feel valued and supported during an incredibly difficult time in their life.

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Safeguarding Employee Rights in the Aftermath of Surgical Negligence

When a person falls victim to surgical negligence, it can have a significant impact on their physical and mental health and many don’t feel that they receive the support that they need. In this article we’re looking at the ways in which employers need to support staff and safeguard employee rights in the aftermath of surgical negligence.

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When a patient suffers an injury at the hands of a doctor or surgeon, the battle to secure compensation for surgical negligence is usually only the start of the challenges they face. Many such patients will struggle to cope, often without adequate support.

In this article, we’re looking at the legal and ethical considerations that should be part of an employer’s policy in order to support them.

What is surgical negligence?

This is the term used when harm – either physical or psychological – is caused to a patient during a medical procedure or through having to wait an unreasonable length of time for such a procedure. In some cases, the patient may be entitled to financial compensation following such an incident, if there is evidence that the harm has been caused by a breach of duty by the hospital or surgeon.

Surgical negligence can result in physical injuries, including disability as well as trauma such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Following a surgical negligence injury, a patient may find it difficult to readjust to their life and, in particular, their employment.

Employee rights in the aftermath of surgical negligence

When an employee has suffered an injury due to surgical negligence, there are some measures which an employer must, by law, put in place and we’re look at some of these in this section:

Adjustments to the workplace

If the surgical negligence has resulted in physical challenges or disability, the employer must, under the Equality Act 2010, make adjustments to the workplace and/or the employee’s workstation to ensure that they are able to comfortably complete their duties.

Altering working hours

Within reason, the employer must allow flexibility in working hours, including additional breaks and/or remote working, to prevent further harm to the employee.

Allowing additional time off

When a person is living with a disability or significant physical or mental injury, they will often need to attend medical appointments or counselling. The employer is obliged to allow extra time off for these appointments.

Ethical considerations for employers in the aftermath of surgical negligence

In the previous section, we looked at some of the legal obligations of an employer when it comes to surgical negligence, but ticking these boxes should only be the start. In this section, we’ll take a look at ways in which employers can go the extra mile to support their employees:

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Access to counselling

In 2023, many employers provide access to counselling services as one of their employee benefits, as this is increasingly considered to be a vital part of employee care. Even if this is not offered as standard, an employer may consider making this available to employees who have suffered injury through medical negligence.

A staggered return

Following an injury or trauma, a person will often suffer from fatigue – which can make a full return to work feel overwhelming. Instead, an employer might offer a staggered return, for example, two days a week to begin with, to allow the employee to ease gradually back into their job.

Modification of duties

Following surgical negligence, an employee may not be physically able to complete their former duties. So, where possible, an employer should be prepared to modify these duties or to offer the employee a new role to suit their capabilities.

The consequences for employers

In this article, we’ve covered some of the legal and moral obligations of an employer in terms of a duty of care to staff who have been a victim of surgical negligence. But, what if the employer fails to meet these obligations?

The legal obligations

In the event of an employer failing to meet the legal obligations of their duty toward a disabled or injured employee, the business may be subject to a legal case of discrimination. If found guilty, the business may have to pay the employee a considerable amount of money in compensation, as well as other penalties such as downtime while the correct measures are put in place. The business may also suffer adverse publicity which can be extremely harmful.

The moral obligations

Although a business will not usually be taken to court for not fulfilling moral obligations toward their employees, this doesn’t mean that failing to do so will be without consequence. Adverse publicity and chatter on social media platforms might mean that the business will subsequently lose customers and struggle to attract new employees.

Moving forward together

Suffering an injury or trauma through surgical negligence can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life. It’s often a long journey back to health and wellness.

As an employer, you play a huge role in supporting the employee on this journey by observing not just the measures that are required by law, but also the measures which make your employee feel valued and supported during an incredibly difficult time in their life.

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