1.4. Definition of harm in healthcare

Course- Level 3 diploma in care (RQF)

Unit 7 – Safeguarding and Protection in Care Settings

L.O 1 – Understand principles of safeguarding adults

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1.4. Definition of harm

The definition of harm is subjective and can vary from person to person. Some people may consider physical pain to be the only form of harm, while others may include emotional or psychological pain. Still, others may consider any type of detrimental effect to constitute harm.

Most people would likely agree that inflicting physical pain on another person without their consent is an act of harm, but what about causing them emotional distress? Is that also harmful? And if so, is it as harmful as physically hurting someone? These are difficult questions to answer, and there is no consensus on the matter.

One thing that most people can agree on, however, is that inflicting any type of damage – whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological – on another person, without their consent, is harmful. For example, if one person beats up another or steals from them without their permission, everyone would likely agree that they are causing harm to the individual.

There are, however, some grey areas in this definition, such as the aforementioned emotional distress. Although there is no universal consensus on how to quantify emotional pain, most people would agree that it is harmful and should be avoided. An individual who has been emotionally harmed may feel depressed, anxious, or upset for a period of time after the incident. This feeling can range from mild to severe and can sometimes last for a long time – years even.

Emotional pain can also be caused by something other than one person intentionally inflicting it on another person. For example, an individual may feel intense emotional pain due to a tragic event such as the death of a loved one or a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami.

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