Academic Master


Medical Scenario: Cultivating Professional Accountability

Most of the life-threatening medication errors commonly arise from fatigue of healthcare staff. These errors tend to be recognized or unrecognized. From the scenario, the nurse is clearly tired after four days of twelve-hour shifts. The fatigue increases the possibility of forgetting to mention opioids administration in their briefs. In spite of a suffering human conscience, one could choose to ignore the error in their relief since the patient had fully recovered and no harm was detected. One could be hesitant to admit and own up the mistake because of the accompanying professional and legal repercussions. However, besides being morally right, admitting mistakes eliminates the possibility of future recurrence of similar mistakes.

Ethical consideration and accountability is an essential part of the healthcare system today. Decisions made by an individual healthcare worker has a great impact on the patient’s health and overall well-being. Lack of professional ethics and a sense of responsibility for such decisions puts patient welfare in jeopardy. As a result, most healthcare institutions have developed strong policies to foster accountability of their staff. Additionally, lack of accountability has far reaching effects to the detriment of the facility reputation, quality of care, and possible legal actions. Recent research reveals that on average, 210,000 patients die annually from medical errors most which are not accounted for (Day et al., 2018). Most of these fatalities could be avoided with proper documentation, responsibility and accountability.

Lack of accountability for medication errors could be minimized in the health care. To achieve these medical institutions should prioritize improvement of ethical conduct sensitization to develop an ethical and value-based culture (Rodziewicz, Houseman, Hipskind 2021). To avoid fatigue, sufficient staff should be hired to ensure efficiency and quality of care. Instead of nurturing a culture of punishment, blame and humiliation, it could be more actionable to build and embrace a culture that acknowledges existence of safety challenges associated with human factors.


Rodziewicz, T. L., Houseman, B., & Hipskind, J. E. (2021). Medical error reduction and prevention. StatPearls [Internet].

Day, R. M., Demski, R. J., Pronovost, P. J., Sutcliffe, K. M., Kasda, E. M., Maragakis, L. L., … & Winner, L. (2018). Operating management system for high reliability: Leadership, accountability, learning and innovation in healthcare. Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management23(4), 155-166.



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