Ethics is the principles and assumptions of right and wrong that individuals use to make choices and informed decisions. These principles guide behaviors by setting out what is deemed right or wrong. There are ethical issues in all aspects of the human endeavor as well as in all subject matters because wherever we find ourselves, we are faced with making choices and decisions that affect other members of the society.
Information systems and technology has revolutionized the way we live and change our life styles in totality. For instance, letters by mail used to be the form of communicating to people outside your immediate environment. This used to take days, weeks or months depending on the distance between you and the person before you get a feedback/reply. Now, mobile phones and internet allows for instant communications making life easier and helping businesses.
In as much as information systems and technology is improving our lives styles, it also comes with other negative consequences and raises a lot of ethical issues. For instance, new forms of crime are committed using information technology. A whole US government database has been hacked into by hackers who live outside the country; they do this by using networks of information systems. This paper examines the ethical issues that might be faced by managers when inventing or using information technology. Healthcare professionals in the care of developmentally disabled individuals, face ethical dilemmas with the use of clients who receive services at their institutions.
Developmentally disabled individuals do not have the full ability to protect their personal information and records of their healthcare. Health professionals in this field have the sole responsibility of gathering this information and using them to the individuals’ advantage. The information includes their names, social security numbers, insurance type and numbers, medical records numbers, home addresses, state ID numbers etc.
In this information systems technology world, these personal information can be leaked to people outside the healthcare field to commit various crimes such as filling of income tax returns, credit card fraud, bank transitions etc. The ethical dilemma of either protecting the individuals’ personal information or leaking to third party can be analyzed using the five-step process. (Kenneth et al 2012)
First, identify and describe clearly the facts. In the particular case under review, identifying the describing the facts will involve the health care professional assessing his/role in disclosing or releasing such information. The role can be direct or indirect, direct role will be when the health professional deliberately release the protected information to a third party for some personal benefits at the detriment of the patient whiles indirect is when he/she through errors or negligence the information is leaked.
Defining the facts enables the professional be aware of how he can either be directly or indirectly involved in the ethical dilemma. The second step is defining the conflict or dilemma and identifying the higher-order values involved. Here, the healthcare professional is faced with two courses of action; either to sell the information and benefit from it or protect it for the benefit of the clientele. A typical ethical issue involves two opposing courses of action that that support worthwhile values.
The values in this context are “personal benefit’ versus “protecting the client.” Furthermore, identifying the stakeholders in an ethical dilemma helps in the analysis. When the healthcare professional is faced with this ethical dilemma of personal benefits from individuals’ personal information or protecting them, the stakeholders can be identified as the health professional, the client/individual and the healthcare institution in general.
Each stakeholder mentioned has or will be affected by the outcome of the end results. The health care professional can benefit in monetary terms whiles the client’s identity can be stolen. The healthcare institution may face sanctions from state regulations if this activity comes to light and a dent on its reputation. Also, identify the options that can reasonably be taken. This stage is when the options are put forward so that each is looked at carefully.
When the health professional protects the information, it will benefit all stakeholders involved. That is the identified reasonable action that can be taken. Finally, the professional should identify the possible consequences of options. It is obvious that when the health professional sell the identity of the clients, it has potential consequence of he/she loosing job when caught. The health institution can also face sanctions and damage to its reputation. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
In conclusion, the ethical dilemma faced by the healthcare professional can be solved and the best course of taken to benefit all the stakeholders involved by following general ethical principles. Some of these principles are; do unto others as you would have them unto you, if action is not right for everyone to take, it is not right for anyone, actions that cannot be taken repeatedly should not be taken at all, take actions that achieves higher value and produce least harm or potential cost etc.
The healthcare professional should put himself in the position of the person whose information is about to be leaked and ask him/herself if it’s right for someone to do that to the personal information.