Achieving Ethical Behavior in Public Health Care


Public Health


An ethical dilemma comes into play due to disagreements between the health professional and the patient in relation to either what is right or wrong. Ideally, it is mandatory for health care providers to tackle the inconveniencing situations and develop solutions to ensure that each stakeholder attains maximum service satisfaction requirements. Therefore, to solve such problems, the healthcare professional must make informed decisions based on ethical principles that ensure the protection of personal interests of the service provider and the client. This paper discusses a typical clinical case that occurred in my own intensive care unit (ICU), pinpoints the ethical dilemma and finally outlines the ethical principles applicable to this quagmire (Tort Reform Discussion n.d).

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Moral awareness (The case)

Consider the ethical dilemma the health care professional is faced with in the selected case study

A 76-year old woman urgently reported to the emergency department (ED) after suffering from respiratory distress. Upon diagnosis, the ED doctor realized that she was less responsive to verbal stimuli, normotensive, tachypneic and 30 breaths/min. Radiographic analysis of the chest showed a right lobe consolidation. Her papers depicted advanced bowel cancer, bone and brain metastases. Hence, the doctor referred her to the ICU due to the constantly deteriorating respiratory functions. The nurse assigned to nurse the patient overnight deemed it fit to intubate and ventilate the patient in case she developed respiratory failure. Controversially, it was ethical to inform the next of kin about the patient’s condition. Hence, they decided to consult the patient’s family to ascertain the next move in case of cardiac arrest. In the event of notifying the patient’s son, the information he provided gave a guideline concerning a not for resuscitation order. In this case, the doctor could have resorted to life-saving measures by resuscitating the patient in case of cardiac arrest, contrary to the information provided by the next of kin. The patient’s daughter, however, wanted to ensure that her mother was okay as soon as possible even though they had not been in touch over the past 3 years. Actually this case raised a specific clinical dilemma. For instance, the daughter’s interest in ensuring care for her mother conflicts the patient’s advance directives to the son.

Moral judgment

Solution to the specific ethical dilemma faced by a healthcare professional

Therefore, to solve the clinical dilemma, the health professionals had to ensure that they comply with the underlying ethical principles that are applicable to the situation (United Nations, 2012). However, the proper decision making concerning the choice of better compliance with primary care guidelines should depend on autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice (United Nations, 2012). Therefore, adopting such basic principles would ensure better practices during the implementation of care of dying patients. In a nutshell, the caregiver should use the guiding principles in care delivery to either preserve life or make a peaceful death possible. This concept could solve the emotional tension between the daughter, son and the doctor providing the service to the old mother, and finally alleviate the feeling of uncertainty.

Ethical behavior

Autonomy involves making informed decisions without considering other people’s interferences. In this case, the doctor faced an ethical dilemma on whether to respect the patient’s autonomy or give in to the daughter’s demands (Tort Reform Discussion, n.d). Ideally, the caregiver could have performed other medical operations to ensure safety of the patient; thus, respecting her autonomy but compromising the daughter’s autonomy. Finally, health professionals should engage in a series of discussions to know the possibilities of various actions and discuss together on the best one that would benefit the patient (Chiu et al., n.d).

Did you like this sample?
  1. United Nations (2012). Putting Ethics to Work: a Guide for UN Staff. 
  2. Tort Reform Discussion (n.d). Legal, Ethical and Safety Issues in the Healthcare Workplace. Jones & Bartlett, LLC.  
  3. Chiu C., et al., (n.d). Understanding the Ethical Behavior of Healthcare Personnel: A Perspective of Human Resource Management. 
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