Much has been written and said about the 'canister scandal' but the thing is, after all the hype and brouhaha, what's next? Having written entries on it in my other blog, I decided to use Inquirer.net's search feature to find out the latest on it and here is an excerpt of an article by Jhunex Napallacan dated May o6, 2008:
CEBU CITY, Philippines -- The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has approved the upgrading of the complaint against 14 persons involved in the rectal surgery scandal to criminal and administrative cases.
In a resolution released Monday afternoon, the Ombudsman Visayas found reasonable ground to charge seven doctors, five nurses and two clinical instructors, with violation of Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
The section holds a person liable for "causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions."
Any person found guilty of an offense defined by RA 3019 faces a prison term from one to 10 years.
Out of the 14 charged, 6 are registered nurses: 2 clinical instructors, 1 circulating nurse, 1 on-call nurse, and 2 nursing supervisors. Only the circulating nurse is part of the surgical team. Another person who is facing charges is a nursing attendant. Although not a licensed nursing personnel, the said ancillary personnel was allegedly part of the surgical team and was apparently functioning as a nurse. Whoever delegated his or her nursing function to the nursing attendant is also legally responsible for the wrongdoing committed by the said ancillary nursing personnel.
Being very familiar with the doctrine of respondeat superior and the legal responsibility of clinical instructors for the behavior or work rendered by nursing students during clinical rotations, I understand why charges were also filed against the nursing supervisors and clinical instructors.
Respondeat superior (also called the master-servant rule) literally means "let the master answer". This doctrine implies that superiors are responsible for the actions done by their subordinates when the latter are doing such actions during their assigned duties. The nursing supervisors may argue that they did not actively take part in the merriment during that fateful day but as direct superiors of the nursing personnel involved, the liability is expanded to include them.
As for the involvement of the clinical instructors, Republic Act 9173 is very clear: Nursing students do not perform professional nursing duties. They should ALWAYS be under the supervision of their clinical instructors and they should be oriented to the policies of the nursing unit or area of exposure during clinical rotations. Although the nursing students involved were already referred to their respective schools for disciplinary action, their clinical instructors will have to face criminal and administrative charges.
As would-be nursing professionals, nursing students should also be responsible for their actions when caring for their patients. Quality nursing care, although supervised, is expected of student nurses when attending to patients during clinical rotations.