Ethics vs. Law
Health care professionals practice in an environment that is complex, with many regulations, laws, and standards of practice. Performing an abortion is legal but may not be considered ethical by other health care professionals or members of the public at large. Other ethical dilemmas arise at the end of life, when a decision must be made to turn off life-support machines and allow death to occur. Other common ethical issues a health care professional might face are confidentiality, relationships with patients and matters related to consent, especially in the treatment of minors. Being an effective leader/manager is essential if a health care organization is to provide high-quality care and succeed financially. All healthcare leaders/managers at all levels of the healthcare organization, which depend on other people for efficient and effective work performance, require leadership ability. The quality of leadership is crucial to how work gets done in a well-managed healthcare organization. Discuss the following issues:
What are the differences between ethical issues and legal issues?
Analyze a scenario in which an issue may be unethical, but legal.
Analyze a scenario in which an issue may be ethical, but illegal. Explain your choices.
What traits and characteristics of a health care leader and/or manager are important in the steps of ethical decision-making? Why?
Differences between ethical issues and legal issues:
Ethical issues are based on moral principles and values that govern the behavior of individuals or organizations. They are concerned with what is right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair. Ethical issues are subjective and may vary between individuals and cultures.
Legal issues, on the other hand, are based on laws and regulations that have been enacted by a governing body. Legal issues are objective and must be followed regardless of personal beliefs or values. Legal issues deal with what is permitted or prohibited by law.
Scenario 1: An issue may be unethical, but legal
A healthcare organization may choose to administer a lower quality of care to uninsured patients to increase profit margins. While this may be legal, it is unethical as it violates the principle of providing equitable and high-quality care to all patients.
Scenario 2: An issue may be ethical, but illegal
A healthcare professional may choose to provide medical care to an immigrant who is in the country illegally. While this act may be ethical as it upholds the principle of providing care to those in need, it is illegal as it violates immigration laws.
Important traits and characteristics of a healthcare leader/manager in ethical decision-making:
Honesty: being truthful and transparent in all dealings with patients, stakeholders, and staff
Integrity: upholding moral and ethical principles, even in difficult situations
Empathy: understanding and caring for the needs and perspectives of others
Respect: treating all individuals with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or beliefs
Fairness: making decisions that are just and equitable for all parties involved
These traits and characteristics are important in ethical decision-making as they promote trust and confidence in the leader/manager and help to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of all stakeholders. A healthcare leader/manager who embodies these traits and characteristics can provide a positive and ethical environment for the provision of healthcare services.