A helpful guide to advance care planning and other important information related to medical decision-making. Now ethics of care pdf a brand new look and expanded content!
Health Care Ethics: Overview of the Basics What Is Health Care Ethics? At the core of health care ethics is our sense of right and wrong and our beliefs about rights we possess and duties we owe others. Thinking carefully about the ethical aspects of health care decisions helps us make choices that are right, good, fair and just. The Core Principles of Health Care Ethics Our ethical responsibilities in a given situation depend in part on the nature of the decision and in part on the roles we play. For example, a patient and his or her family play different roles and owe different ethical obligations to each other than a patient and his or her physician. In the US, four main principles define the ethical duties that health care professionals owe to patients. All 4 principles are considered to be in effect at all times.
In theory, each is of equal weight or importance. In practice, however, at least in the US, respect for patient autonomy often takes priority over the others. We all have bad hair daysor worse. We might have the flu or another physical illness. We might be suffering emotionally from marital discord or loss of a parent. We might be experiencing financial hardships.
We might be dealing with an existential crisis, wondering about our purpose in life or as a professional social worker. So, what are our ethical obligations when we are experiencing physical, emotional, social, or spiritual distress? Unfortunately, it does not provide much guidance on what to do if personal problems are interfering with our professional responsibilities to our clients, or to our employer and the profession of social work. Although it is not explicitly stated in the Code of Ethics, I would submit that self care is an ethical obligation, implicitly required by Standard 1. The primary ethical standard on impairment is 2. Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague’s impairment that is due to personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties and that interferes with practice effectiveness should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action. Social workers who believe that a social work colleague’s impairment interferes with practice effectiveness and that the colleague has not taken adequate steps to address the impairment should take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and other professional organizations.
Basically, these provisions require social workers to address impairment in their colleagues. The underlying concern is protection of clients. If a worker’s impairment affects the quality of service, then the client is at risk. If we have an obligation to deal with a colleague’s impairment, then why not have an obligation to deal with our own? If a social worker is unable to perform her professional duties in a competent manner, of course the worker will do whatever is necessary to take care of herself before returning to work. A worker with depression or burnout might lack awareness about the existence or consequences of this condition.