Context: Ethics and Health Care Perhaps the most basic and important subject in the health care field is ethics. Remember Hippocrates and the Hippocratic Oath? Physician, do no harm! This simple proposition written sometime in the fifth century B.C. is one of the oldest binding ethical documents in human history. Its principles are adhered to by most health professionals even to this day: treat the sick to the best of one’s ability, preserve patient privacy, and teach medicine to future generations. Even with the increasing advancements of medically based technologies, the complexity of diseases and treatments, the growing diversity and disparity, and the development of large medical institutions and facilities, almost 100 percent of graduating health care professionals take an ethically based oath before they begin practice. Ethical situations are sometimes difficult, for example in end of life decisions (euthanasia) or saving a mother versus an unborn child. But whether you are a nurse, a public health professional, or a health care administrator, everyone in the health care field understands you must base decisions on a set of ethical principles and values. In fact, each discipline has established a professional code of ethics. According to the Vermont Ethics Network (2011), there are four core principles that health care professionals need to know and honor when helping patients: •Autonomy: to honor the patient’s right to make their own decision. •Beneficence: to help the patient advance his or her own good. •Nonmaleficence: to do no harm. •Justice: to be fair and treat like cases alike. Questions to consider: Toggle Drawer Questions to Consider . As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, a family member, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment. •What are the important facts in the ethical case study? •What are the ethical concepts and principles learned from reviewing the resources? •How can ethical principles be applied to the case study? •How do you approach an ethical situation within your organization when you observe it? •How can the ethical principles studied and the lessons learned from this case study be applied within your organization or a health care organization where you may work in the future? Suggested Resources: Ethics for Health Care •American College of Healthcare Executives. (2016). ACHE code of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.ache.org/abt_ache/code.cfm •American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Ethics topics and articles. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/Resources •Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Public health ethics resources. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/od/science/integrity/phethics/resources.htm •Levitt, D. (2014). Ethical decision-making in a caring environment: The four principles and LEADS. Healthcare Management Forum, 27(2), 105–107. •Levitt-Rosenthal, N. (2013). Ethics, values, and decision making. Frontiers of Health Services Management, 30(1), 27–32. •Mahoney, J. S., Mulder, C., Hardesty, S., & Madan, A. (2017). Integrating caring into patient-centered care through interprofessional education and ethics: The Caring Project. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 81(3), 233–246. •Maintaining Academic Honesty.
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