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Patient Advocacy, Case Study Example

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Case Study

A pregnant woman arrived at the emergency department with a male partner. It appeared as though she was in active labor because the woman kept walking back and forth demonstrating excruciating pain. A guard on duty directed the male partner to an attendant to have the woman booked in as a patient. The attendant requested valid identification along with, social security number and health insurance information before beginning the process.

The ethical and legal components of this situation encompassed the fact that the woman neither her partner possessed any valid identification, social security numbers or health insurance. They both claimed to be undocumented and could not obtain state identification, social security numbers and could not afford health insurance even though in the country more than twelve years. Meanwhile, the booking attendant made an episode of the incident as if it were the very first time a situation like this was occurring in the institution.

While the pain intensified; attendant continued arguing with the couple to the point of humiliation; the incident was brought to my attention as emergency department nursing manager. Quickly, I called the attendant aside and began discussing the emergency medical and active labor act which became law in 1982. The law clearly states that ‘hospitals provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay’ (Zibulewsky, 2001, p. 339). Immediately, I directed the clients to another booking attendant after apologizing for the misunderstanding.

Potential barriers to advocacy in the situation could have been a feeling of powerlessness. However, as one of the emergency department nursing managers the author is mine to be a patient advocate (Negarandeh et.al, 2006).  The next barrier might have been advocacy support. In this case the emergency medical and active labor act was the legal weapons available to target the opponent. Code of ethics could have posed another challenge, but it is clear that this was escalating into a human rights issue which had to be addressed quickly (Marquis & Huston, 2011).

Works cited

Marquis, B. L. & Huston, C. J.  Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing. Theory and application. (7th ed.) Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkin. 2011. Print.

Negarandeh, Reza., Fatemeh Oskouie, Ahmadi, Fazlollah Nikravesh, Mansoure and Hallberg Ingalill. Patient advocacy: barriers and facilitators. BMC Nursing 2006, 5:3. Print

Zibulewsky, J. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA): what it is and what it means for physicians. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2001 14(4): 339–346 Print

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