Healthcare is a diverse field with many specialties, but a commonality in all aspects is providerâ€™s ethics. Ethics means following the standards and guidelines set by institutions as it relates to job duties, professional behavior, and patients. The decisions made by healthcare professionals, be it physicians, nurses or medical staff, affect real people and may mean the difference between life and death. The health and welfare of patients, along with the very serious aspect of treatment facilitation, requires that ethical standards be followed every step of the way for the health care professional. Following ethic issues will give us a comprehensive view of what it means and how it applies to the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals follow ethics from how medical guidelines are set, how ethics can become legal issues, and ethical effects on patience.
Setting of Guidelines
The settings of guidelines differ from facility to facility, but the core values are the same. â€śGuidelines are usually produced at national or international levels by medical associations or governmental bodies, such as the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Local healthcare providers may produce their own set of guidelines or adapt them from existing top-level guidelines.â€ť (Guidelines & recommendations, n.d.) â€śClinical practice guidelines are systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances.â€ť (Institute of Medicine, 1990). Such documents have been in use for thousands of years during the entire history of medicine. (Wikipedia) Clinical protocol is a predefined writtenÂ procedural method in the design and implementation of experiments.â€ť
Protocols are written whenever it is desirable to standardize a laboratory method to ensure successful replication of results by others in the same laboratory or by other laboratories. Detailed protocols also facilitate the assessment of results through peer review. In addition to detailed procedures and lists of required equipment and instruments, protocols often include information on safety precautions, the calculation of results and reporting standards, including statistical analysis and rules for predefining and documenting excluded data to avoid bias.â€ť(Wikipedia) All aspects of guidelines all have a form of ethics that follow.
There are many different ethics groups in healthcare. Ethics groups improve patient care and the health of the public by examining and promoting physician professionalism. The Ethics groups are organized into three parts: as stated by (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), which promotes adherence to the professional ethical standards set out in the Code through its judicial function, Ethics Resource Center, which provides students and physicians with the essential tools and skills to address ethical challenges in a changing health care environment, and the Institute for Ethics which is an academic research center uniquely situated in the nation’s largest professional association of physicians. All these different groups listed above, promote ethics in healthcare. Another ethic that effect patients is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). As stated by (AMA) â€śCreated in 1996 (HIPPA) provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs; Reduces health care fraud and abuse; mandates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; and requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.â€ť
So many different parts of ethics that effect patients seem never-ending but all these things are set in place to help patients, but when do these ethics go too far? When do they become legal issues? Ethics codes and policies of facilities can turn wrong fast and one personâ€™s view change others as things go awry and it becomes a legal issue. An example ofÂ ethics becoming a legal issue is a Texas law that says life-sustaining treatment cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant patient, regardless of her end-of-life wishes.
Recently there was a Texas woman who was brain dead and pregnant. She and her husband both paramedics, between each other, did not want to be kept alive by machines in this type of situation. The hospital applied the law cited above, but is this the correct type of ethics governing hospitals? Larry Thompson, a state’s attorney arguing on behalf of the hospital stated the hospital was trying to protect the rights of the fetus as it believed Texas law instructed it to do. (Urbanski, D. 2014) Keeping a dead body alive with a fetus that had slim to no chance at life, where do ethics come in? Are ethics more of a personal belief or opinion of some?
Ethics codes help standardize the quality of ethics in healthcare field. The Code of Medical Ethics made by the American Medical Association (AMA) which was founded in 1847 unanimously adopted the world’s first national code of professional ethics in medicine. Since that time it has been the authoritative ethics guide for practicing physicians. â€śThe Code articulates the enduring values of medicine as a profession. As a statement of the values to which physicians commit themselves individually and collectively, the Code is a touchstone for medicine as a professional community. It defines medicineâ€™s integrity and the source of the professionâ€™s authority to self-regulate.â€ť (AMA) This code has set the guidelines for the medical industry. The Hippocratic Oath also shows how guidelines are set in medicine.
Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by doctors and other healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine honestly. There have been ethical guidelines in medicine a long time, the â€śHippocratic oath was written in 5th century BC.â€ť (Tyson, 2001) Such documents have been in use for thousands of years during the entire history of medicine. Each medical facility has their own ethical guidelines to follow and it plays an important role in healthcare and plays a role on patients. The last code is the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ). NAHQâ€™s (2011)
Maintains active personal and professional development programs in the field of healthcare quality and exhibits a broad range of knowledge creates and supports an environment that fosters teamwork, emphasizes quality,Â recognizes the customer, and promotes learning maintains a commitment to the improvement of the professional through participation in, and active support of, the local, state, and national professional organizations addresses concerns and takes formal actions to resolve or report the unethical or questionable practices to the appropriate channels. (Code of Ethics for Healthcare Quality Professionals, n.d.)
In summary, ethics have effects on how medical guidelines are set, how ethics can become legal issues, and ethical effects on patients. Every part of healthcare ethics plays an important role in the process. Decisions of facilities, providers, and patients are all impacted by ethics. Medical professionals must follow ethical guidelines and be aware of legal issues, and ethical effects on patience. The decisions made by healthcare professionals, be it physicians, nurses or medical staff, affect real people and may mean the difference between life and death. The health and welfare of patients, along with the very serious aspect of treatment facilitation, requires that ethical standards be followed every step of the way for the healthcare professional.
(AMA) Code of medical ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved from
American medical association (AMA)-Council on ethical and judicial affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/ama-councils/council-ethical-judicial-affairs.page
(AMA) Ethics resource center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/about-ethics-group/ethics-resource-center.page
(AMA) Health insurance portability and accountability act. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/solutions-managing-your-p
Guidelines & recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/clinicians-providers/guidelines-recommendations/index.html
(NAHQ) Code of ethics and standards of practice for healthcare quality professionals. (p.3 n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nahq.org/uploads/files/about/codestandards.pdf
National institute of health -Clinical practice guidelines. (n.d.) as cited by (Institute for medicine, 1990) Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/clinicalpractice.html
Protocol (natural sciences). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_trial_protocol
Tyson, P. (n.d.). The Hippocratic Oath today. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/hippocratic-oath-today.html
Urbanski, D. (2014, 01 26). Family: Pregnant and brain-dead Texas woman removed from life support.. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/26/family-pregnant-and-brain-dead-texas-woman-removed-from-life-support/
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