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Medical Professions

Safeguarding Patient Welfare by Adhering to Scope of Practice

In the intricate web of healthcare, the adherence of professionals to their designated scope of practice is pivotal for ensuring patient safety and quality care.

Unfortunately, in Kenya, the risks escalate when healthcare professionals veer beyond their established boundaries, inadvertently putting patient welfare in jeopardy.

In recent times, there has been a noticeable uptick in the inclination of certain healthcare professionals to extend their practice beyond established boundaries, often overlooking the critical factor of patient safety.

Within this piece, I delve into the hazards patients face when healthcare professionals venture beyond the confines of their designated scope of practice.

Let’s delve in!

1. Misdiagnosis and Delayed Treatment

As a professional, when you operate outside your scope, the risk of misdiagnosing your patients increases.

Your patients may undergo unnecessary tests or treatments, leading to delays in receiving the appropriate care they urgently need.

2. Compromised Quality of Care

As a healthcare professional, you are an expert in your specific domain. For example, pharmacists are experts in medicine.

Deviating from your designated scope compromises the quality of care, as the nuances of specialized knowledge may be overlooked, impacting treatment efficacy.

3. Medication Errors

Pharmacists, entrusted with medication management, face challenges when others intrude into this realm. Cases of unqualified persons manning community or hospital outlets have been on the rise. This causes the risk of medication errors to skyrocket, posing severe consequences for patient health.

4. Lack of Accountability

Clarity in roles is fundamental for accountability.

When professionals overstep their boundaries, accountability becomes blurred and difficult to enforce.

Patients are left in a vulnerable position, unsure of who to hold responsible for lapses in care.

5. Diminished Trust in Healthcare

The erosion of trust in healthcare is a profound consequence when professionals fail to adhere to their scope.

Patients may become apprehensive, questioning the integrity of the entire healthcare system.

6. Legal and Ethical Implications

Straying from one’s scope not only breaches professional ethics but also opens the door to legal ramifications.

The fallout from such actions can tarnish professional reputations and incur legal consequences.

Mitigation Strategies

To safeguard patients, it’s imperative to reinforce the importance of professional boundaries.

Ongoing education, strict adherence to regulatory guidelines, and a commitment to inter-professional collaboration are key to mitigating these risks.

Patient welfare should always be the compass guiding healthcare practices.

As we navigate the complexities of healthcare in Kenya, it is incumbent upon professionals to stay within their designated scopes of practice. By doing so, we not only prioritize patient safety but also fortify the foundations of a trustworthy and resilient healthcare system.

Dr. Libeya Bethwel

Pharmacist I Healthcare Advocate

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