The medical and health care industry has got to be the industry where ethics is very important. Unlike any other professions, those under health care are faced with different kinds of ethical issues every single day.
Doctors, nurses, therapists and everybody else working in this industry may be conflicted with some ethical decisions that have to be made. Because of numerous ethical issues in health care that may arise every day, hospitals and other health institutions are now required to form an ethics committee.
The ethics committee is a group of people who assists patients, the patient’s families, and health care personnel in identifying, understanding, and resolving ethical issues.
In most cases, the ethical committee is composed of physicians, nurses, social workers, ethicists, a hospital chaplain and a lawyer. The ethical committee will be responsible in writing a set of ethical policies and a code of ethics. When making ethical decisions, there are certain values that the committee needs to be aware of. The basic principles of ethical decision making are Beneficence, Autonomy, Non-maleficence and Justice.
Ethical issues may happen at any given time. One of the most common ethical issues that medical practitioners have to face is the protection of information. Confidentiality is a very important term in this industry. People are always naturally very sociable to the point that vital patient information is being shared to other people who are not involved in the patient’s care.
This must never be the case since it is a violation of the patient’s privacy. Also, the patient’s chart should only be accessible to authorized people. Some nurses even write blog about their patient’s health statuses, which should not be the case. Because confidentiality is one of the most important ethical issues in health care, serious penalties await those who violate this rule.
Dealing with patients with old age may also pose a problem in ethical decision making. Old patients are actually a lot trickier since most of them are not able to make rational decisions for themselves. The families and the medical team are often given the responsibility to do this. The dilemma increases when the patient is terminally ill. Euthanasia may come into perspective. The ethical committee might have different opinions regarding this matter but the code of ethics must be followed at all times. In these cases, it is always better to check whether the patient has an advance directive or a living will.
Dealing with patients who are elderly and those who are terminally ill is a very difficult issue that requires deep understanding of the ethical process. Sexual harassment is also an example of the most common ethical issues in health care today.
Sexual harassment may happen not only between doctor and patient, but also between medical practitioners. When situations like this arise, the ethical committee will tackle sexual ethics which is a branch of ethics that discusses all issues regarding sexuality and sexual behavior.
In most cases, ethical dilemmas that involve sexual incidents between medical practitioner and another are due to power difference or difference in age. Most of the time, the person with lesser power are forced to submit in whatever the other one wants to do. An act without consent will automatically be labeled as harassment. In instances like this, the victim must always report the incident immediately to security or a member of the ethics committee.
Therapies can be done to alleviate trauma and stress related to the incident and investigations and hearings may also be performed. There are a lot of ethical issues in health care today. All medical practitioners must be aware of the basic principles in ethical decision making.