ETHICAL ISSUE FACING HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
Ethical Issues Facing Healthcare Professionals Today in Managementand Clinical Level
Ethical Issues Facing Healthcare Professionals Today in Managementand Clinical Level
Heretofore,the moral code for each profession calls for a high level ofintegrity, honesty, and responsibility. Codes of Ethic are designedand put in place to facilitate the resolution of common ethicalquandaries that develop in one`s profession. Ethical codes have beenlong-standing elements in the professional control of the behavior ofnurses, doctors, and, therefore, behave with integrity in extremecircumstances. However, healthcare professionals are frequently facedwith composite ethical dilemmas in their workplace. Indeed, somehealthcare provider tends to confront these ethical issues directlywhile others run away from them. Subsequently, healthcareprofessionals have had a long struggle with these ethical challengesin patient care and they are currently bound to uphold thefoundational moral virtues and principles central to the healthcareprofession. Various codes of ethics have been formulated anddeveloped by different bodies such as The American Nurses Association(ANA). These codes serve as a guide for conducting healthcareservices in a manner consistent with quality in healthcare andethical obligations of the occupation. Nevertheless, theconsideration has impacted many factors that have brought ethicalissues in healthcare organizations. This paper addresses the ethicalissues faced by health professionals today in management and clinicallevel.
Ethicsis a system of moral maxims and values that comprises of good,proper, and accepted conduct of behavior (Corning, 2008). Everyprofession has its code of ethics and in this case, healthcareproviders have adopted their system. However, Ulrich et al. (2010),asserts that today’s healthcare environment is calling for moremedical practitioners. This comes at a time when there is limitedstaff to meet the different needs of patients. In this scenario, theethical issue will occur in healthcare condition. This is wherefundamental moral obligations of ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’form the base professional decision-making. It also affects theeleemosynary care of patients. Some of the ethical issues that affecthealthcare professionals both in management and clinical levelinclude quality versus quantity of life, distribution of resources,professional knowledge against personal beliefs, truth againstdeception, freedom and control (Nicolle, 2012).
One of the profound ethical issues that currently affect healthcareprofessionals is inadequate staffing. The number of the patientincreases daily and the shortage of health professionals, nurses,physicians continues to escalate. This leads to an ever-increasingworkload in many healthcare institutions. Understaffing confermedical professionals to find themselves with more task to complete,but less time to perform. This results to prioritizing the workload(Corning, 2008). After prioritization of the workload, they delaymedication, or omit medication and perform different treatment onmany patients simultaneously. This causes confusion. Under thesecircumstances, proper charting is required to include thedocumentation of the skipped treatments and other patientcomplication. The Medical Supervisor should be informed about theomitted therapy so that he or she can offer the best method ofprioritizing the workload. The issue of staffing takes another coursewhen it comes to the professional code of ethics. The code of ethicsindicates clearly that the healthcare professional`s primaryresponsibilities are to the patient. However, most healthcareproviders prefer working in a customized area with peers they know.Ulrich et al. (2010), argues that without enough staffing, it isquite difficult to meet the ethical principles of professionalpractice. They further claim that understaffing and otherinstitutional and supplementary barriers could stop healthcareprofessionals from fulfilling their primary obligations. Thisincludes defending the right of the patient, and protection of theiruprightness.
On the other hand, healthcare professionals particularly in aclinical level, are faced with the decision concerning the besttreatment of dying patients. The decision may ease the patientssuffering or terminate the treatment by ending the patient life. Thisethical dilemma has occurred in many healthcare institutions. This isas a result of the existence of numerous differences in personalbeliefs against professional knowledge. Decision pertaining thisissue should only call for the physician to give advice. In caseslike this, healthcare professionals must have access to advancedirectives like ‘code status` of the patient to follow the correctethical procedure. When this document is not available, healthcareprofessionals will face the challenge of making the right decision.This may end up in ethical dilemmas, thus wrong actions are executed(Ulrich et al., 2010). Separately, the informed decision takesanother course when it comes to advance directives. According toNicolle (2012), advance directives is the goal to honor and respectindividual choice. It also entails the prevention of scenarios inwhich a particular patient may not want to take specific treatment.The value of perception may arise between healthcare professionalstowards this issue. This is as a result of the differences betweenpersonal beliefs and professional knowledge.
Consequently, when dying patients encounter nurses with littleexperience, the nurses face more difficulties in decision making ascompared to experienced nurses. Recent research shows that fewexperienced physicians and clinicians choose not to withdraw life,but to hold treatment for dying patients. This in some instancescause more challenges associated with the provision of sedatives torelief pain during treatment withdrawal (Ulrich et al., 2010).
Atthe management level, healthcare professionals are faced with trustissues. According to Butts (2007), trust is a different virtue thatserves as a defense of many values within health care institutions.Institutional trust is an essential aspect when it comes to theprovision of daily healthcare services. However, healthcareprofessional have difficulties in dealing with this ethical issue.Lack of Fiduciary relationships at the management level within thehealthcare institutions alters the formal duty to another. This,therefore, creates disloyalty in which one healthcare provider cannottrust other healthcare providers to perform the duty on their behalf.According to the recent study, trust has been eroding, and healthcareinstitutions are left behind. The great leaps in technologicaladvancement in the healthcare organization is one the causativeaspects in the erosion of trust. In this case, Butts (2007) assertsthat healthcare professional at the management level abuse power,make a self-serving decision, which result in unethical behavioramong healthcare professional. Lack of trust within healthcareinstitutions often creates critical remarks by medical personnel thatin return jeopardize the delivery of healthcare services to patients.It is noteworthy that trust is a major factor in healthcareinstitution because it heightens teamwork and strategic alliancesamong healthcare professionals.
Intoday`s healthcare environment, medical professionals at clinicallevel are faced with decent inaccurate lab results. Nurses abide withthe main code of ethic that states, ‘Medical providers must actfor the good of the patient.’ (Ulrich et al., 2010).Clinical lab professionals are held responsible for the quality andintegrity of the laboratory services they provide. These are requiredto maintain the individual competence of sound mind judgment andperformance directed towards safeguarding the patient`s life.However, as noted by Schweitzer & Gandhi (2014), lab tests arenot always accurate, and some laboratory clinicians differ inobserving the results. The differences in opinion may arise fromhuman error or faulty test results. This has made some healthcareprofessional to disagree with the judgment of the others, therefore,risking the life of the patient. To curb this ethical issue,laboratory clinicians should maintain the high standard of practiceand safeguard the dignity and privacy of the patient. Additionally,because of the complexity of laboratory medicine and its significancein quality patient care, it is mandatory for medical laboratoryprofessionals to acquire high qualifications skills needed toguarantee their profession competency.
Differentethical issues that involve breaching of the essential patient rightsor ethical principles in healthcare have been identified (Sinclair,2013). The principles include beneficence, the principle of autonomy,justice, non-maleficence, and the principle of telling the truth.Sinclair (2013), justifies that autonomy is among the breachedprinciple. Autonomy is the freedom of an individual to make thechoice and have self-determination. Breaching patient autonomy bymedical professionals to make a one-sided decision on behalf of thepatient leads to the violation of the principle. This act by medicalprofessionals creates the ethical dilemma in clinical practice. Inthe end, healthcare professionals are passive and lack confidence indelivering health services.
On the other hand, healthcare professionals display the lack ofhonesty, which relates to the principle of veracity. This principlecalls for communication, actions, and behaviors between healthprofessionals to be honest and truthful (Sinclair, 2013). Separately,the family member of the patient may not provide reliable andaccurate information regarding the patient nature. This giveshealthcare professional hard time to provide medical services to thepatient without subjective or primary data. To this end, cliniciansmay not be in a position of providing truthful information regardingthe patient’s condition for the fear of ‘getting it wrong.’ Onthe other hand, benevolent deception dilemma arises from withholdinginformation from a patient for their benefit. The healthcareprofessional in this category has the proper purpose of protectionpatient from mental and sensitive stress. However, this is theviolation of the ethical principle as it is recommended to share allpertinent information with the patient (Corning, 2008).
Finally,distribution of healthcare facilities has emerged as another ethicalissue that affects healthcare professional both at management andclinical level. Until recently, the increase in elderly populationand financial shortfalls in healthcare services has createddifficulty in balancing act. This has caused many legal issuesglobally. Closing the gap between health care expenses and fundsavailable will lead to better healthcare services. Shortage of fundshas put many healthcare professional to face legal interventionsdilemmas that refrain them from carrying out their duty.Additionally, clinicians are faced with role dilemma. According toCorning (2008), all clinicians are responsible for performing allduties assigned to them. They are cautioned against performing tasksoutside their range of exercise. For instance, a situation whereby aphysical therapist enters into patient`s room and reads the patient`schart and finds out that this patient has been diagnosed with cancer.The therapist goes ahead and gives the family member the informationabout the patient`s condition, yet it is the role of the physician toprovide such information to the household.
Inconclusion, ethical considerations are important obligations infinding the flow of healthcare services that are provided by medicalprofessionals. Ethical codes have been put in place to guidehealthcare professionals in executing their primary role of caringfor patients. However, the advent of technological advancement in thehealthcare industry, with new treatment methods, medication, and theshortage of staff in the current healthcare organizations haveresulted in new ethical issues. These issues face healthcareprofessionals at both management and clinical levels. Therefore,health professionals must reflect the factual certainty of humanknowledge to improve quality of patient care. .
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Corning, S. H. (2008). Ethical Issues Facing HealthcareProfessionals. RC Educational Consulting Services, Inc. VanBureau Blud, Suite B Riverside.
Chweitzer, A. & Gandhi, M. (2014). Healthcare ProfessionalsLegal-Ethical Issues. Available fromhttp://samples.jbpub.com/9781284036794/9781284069761_CH09_Cropped.pdf(June 8, 2016)
Nicolle, L. (2012). Ethics and the Healthcare Professional. Availablefrom https://lms.rn.com/getpdf.php/1867.pdf (June 8, 2016)
Sinclair, M. J. (2013). New Zealand Nursing Student’ Experiences ofEthical Issues in Clinical Practice: A Descriptive Study. TeradaleInstitute of Technology, New Zealand.
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