Human Resources Management Policy

Patient Neglect and Abuse

Policy 50

NOTE: THIS POLICY, LIKE ALL OTHER MUSC HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES, IS NOT A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS SUCH. THIS POLICY MAY BE CHANGED AT ANY TIME BY THE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

  1. POLICY
    1. It is a crime to physically or mentally neglect, abuse or threaten to neglect or abuse any patient under the care and custody of the Medical University of South Carolina.

      Any conviction for this offense carries a judicial fine of not less than five hundred ($500) dollars and not more than five thousand ($5,000) dollars or imprisonment for no less than ninety (90) days nor more than five (5) years. An employee convicted of such an offense shall also be terminated from employment at MUSC.
    2. It is a criminal offense for an employee to fail to report actual, suspected, or threatened physical or mental neglect, or abuse of a patient at the Medical University of South Carolina.

      Any employee convicted of failing to report patient neglect or abuse is subject to a statutory fine of not less than one hundred ($100) dollars nor more than one thousand ($1,000) dollars or imprisonment for nct more than six (6) months or both. An employee convicted of failing to report patient neglect or abuse shall also be subject to disciplinary action by MUSC up to and including termination.
    3. All reports of incidents shall be investigated and the Executive Director of the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center, or his/her designee, will determine the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.

  2. KEY TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
    1. Negligence - One is said to be negligent when the employee responsible for a patient's welfare fails to provide the level of services, care, or medical treatment that a reasonably prudent person would have provided in order to avoid physical harm or mental anguish to the patient. Negligence may also be the failure to notice a patient's condition and to take appropriate actions.
    2. Abuse - Abuse may occur when the employee responsible for a patient’s welfare inflicts, or allows to be inflicted, physical or mental injury. Abuse does not include non-excessive physical control administered for the safety of the patient or others.
    3. Threatened Abuse - Threatened abuse is an offer of abuse or actions coupled with the apparent ability to execute the threat or attempt.
    4. Sexual Abuse - Sexual abuse includes molestation or relations with a patient or the encouragement of the same with a patient. (Examples include, but are not limited to, intentional touching of a patient for the purpose of sexual arousal and/or actual sexual relations with a patient.)

  3. INFORMATION AND PROCEDURE
    1. Incidents of actual or suspected neglect or abuse shall be thoroughly investigated. Where appropriate, an investigative committee will be appointed by the executive Director of the Medical Center.
    2. Employees who witness, discover or learn of conduct which may be prohibited by this policy shall:
      1. Take immediate action to protect, comfort and assure the treatment and safety of the patient;
      2. Verbally notify their supervisor and the appropriate nurse manager or patient care coordinator;
      3. Initiate an occurrence report and document observations.
    3. Nursing personnel shall:
      1. Immediately assess the patient, assist in providing care and follow-up care and notify the patient's physician;
      2. Obtain additional information and confer with appropriate medical personnel;
      3. The Nurse Manager shall document observations, obtain occurrence reports, and submit all information to the appropriate Clinical Director;
      4. The Clinical Director shall submit a full report to the Executive Director of the Medical Center and to the Director of Patient Care Services.
    4. The Executive Director, after reviewing all information and after consulting with the Medical Director and University General Counsel, may establish an investigative committee, if appropriate, or may determine based on the submitted information, appropriate actions to be taken, i.e. disciplinary actions and notification of law enforcement agencies.
    5. Any staff member accused of patient neglect or abuse shall be fully informed and advised of his or her rights, including his/her right to legal counsel, and said investigation shall be treated in a confidential and professional manner during the course of the investigation.
    6. Any employee who is subject to disciplinary action resulting from abuse or alleged abuse is entitled to the right to grieve in accordance with the Department of Human Resources Management Grievance Procedure Policy No. 44.
    7. For additional information refer to the MUSC Medical Center Policy Manual.

Approved by:

Information Contact

Effective Date

Marion E. Woodbury

Vice President for Finance & Administration

Employee Relations Section

March 1991