Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions (Professional Ethics)

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According to information provided to patients at the Cleveland Clinic, some common ethical questions about patient care include the following:.

Introduction to Health Care Ethics

Four approaches to ethical decision making are the utilitarianism, individualism, moral rights, and justice approaches. Understanding which approach is being used can help clarify the values and norms of the person or group making an ethical decision.

Ethics and Integrated Behavioral Health

Under utilitarianism, moral behavior results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. A decision maker is expected to consider the effect of each alternative on all parties and to choose the alternative that results in the greatest satisfaction for most people. The action to pursue is the one that produces the greatest ratio of good to bad for the individual. With everyone pursuing their own self-interest, the greater good is served as people accommodate each other in seeking their own long-term interest. For example, lying and cheating for immediate gain will cause others to lie and cheat in return.

Individualism is expected to lead to behaviors that fit standards of conduct that people want toward themselves. According to the moral rights approach, human beings have fundamental rights and liberties. Therefore, any ethically correct decision respects the rights of those people affected by it. Fundamental rights include rights to privacy, free speech, due process, freedom of conscience, free consent, and health and safety.

For example, the right to free consent requires informed consent before any medical treatment. Informed consent requires that health professionals provide adequate information to patients so that the patients can make informed decisions about what is best for them. Effective communication is critical in ensuring informed consent.

Under the justice approach, decisions must be based on standards of equity, fairness, and impartiality. Two types of justice are distributive justice and procedural justice.

National Center for Ethics in Health Care

According to distributive justice, individuals who are similar in respects that are relevant to a decision should not be treated differently. For example, men and women should not receive different salaries if they are doing the same job. In procedural justice, rules have to be administered fairly.

That is, rules need to be clearly stated and consistently applied. One example in which the justice principle might apply is in determining which patients, out of the many patients on a waiting list, should receive organ transplants. Modern healthcare organizations establish medical ethics committees to address complex ethical decisions.

These interdisciplinary teams exercise their role through education, policy, and case consultation.

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Medical ethics committees generally consist of an interdisciplinary group of nurses, physicians, social workers, and chaplains. The rapid growth of medical ethics committees came after legal cases such as the Quinlan case on the removal of life-support measures. They protect the autonomy and privacy of research subjects. They partner with academics and research scientists while respecting intellectual-property rights. Healthcare quality professionals remain transparent and forthright with officials from government agencies, industry regulators, and accrediting bodies.

They comply with regulations and standards and report critical information when necessary to protect the public interest. Healthcare quality professionals work to improve healthcare delivery and processes within the community. They engage members of the community into forums that influence systems of care. Healthcare quality professionals engaged in the work of data analytics follow best practices for data management and statistical practice. They ensure that the findings of data-driven inquiries are presented fairly, that work product is reproducible, and that defects and biases are appropriately disclosed.

Healthcare quality professionals engaged in the work of performance improvement employ science-based best practices developed within established quality frameworks. Healthcare quality professionals supporting complex populations advocate for wellness practices in addition to disease management. Healthcare quality professionals advocate for coaching and mentoring to foster accountability.

Healthcare quality professionals are forthright and transparent with the teams they lead. Healthcare quality professionals support the body of knowledge through careful study and application of evidence-based practices. They protect the integrity of the processes and procedures within the body of knowledge, guide colleagues outside of the profession to use quality tools effectively, and consult on the appropriate application of quality tools. They seek to fully understand how quality tools and processes apply to the healthcare industry. They contribute to the body of knowledge and to the evidence that supports evolving best practices. Healthcare quality professionals develop their skills through continuing education, certification, professional experience, and training. Nurses have a responsibility to report any immoral professional behavior.

They should notify staff leaders about healthcare professionals who engage in illegal activities, demonstrate incompetence or work while impaired. In addition, nurses must intervene when they come in contact with a patient who is a victim of child, elder, sexual or domestic abuse. They must also report cases of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

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Ethical nursing constitutes a framework for optimal patient care. With ethics at the forefront, nurses must balance the needs of their patients and the requirements of the healthcare systems that employ them. For example, a nurse must treat an incarcerated or hostile patient the same as a law-abiding and amicable patient. Patients have the right to make decisions about their healthcare. They can decide to accept or refuse treatment. Patients should expect to receive accurate and complete information about their conditions. Nurses must help their patients understand this information to determine their best options.

In the Gallup Poll, for the 14th year in a row, nursing was rated the most honest and ethical profession.

Code of Ethics for Healthcare Quality Professionals

Out of twenty-one occupations, nursing ranked the highest at 85 percent. The ranking was based on telephone interviews with American adults. Nursing has consistently placed at the top of list since when the profession joined the poll. Online RN to BSN programs offer courses in nursing ethics that cover the legal and ethical issues that affect patient care and the nursing profession.

Some of the coursework explores the influence of economic and sociopolitical agendas pertaining to healthcare laws and providers. These classes may also cover how nurses should administer care while facing moral dilemmas. Nurses must also set boundaries with patients to remain professional.

Goals and Principles for Ethical Conduct