Before we start discussing about morals and ethics in healthcare let us get a clear picture of what they actually mean. Even though people use the term morals and ethics interchangeably; both actually have separate meanings. Morals stem out from an individual’s cultural beliefs and teachings. Ethics on the other hand comes from the society that we live in or the religion that we follow or is guided by the organization we work for. So where morals stem from internal factors; ethics stem out of external factors.
In our daily lives we come across many situations which put us on moral and ethical crossroads; they could be personal or professional. In fact, on the professional front we face a lot of ethical issues. The story is no different in case of healthcare. In fact, in the case of healthcare, moral and ethical issues become that much more critical as a person’s life might be at stake in certain situations. This anonymous saying stands true in case of healthcare; “Stand up for what is right even if you stand alone”.
Reasons for the rise of Ethical Dilemmas
A few of the reasons for the rise of ethical dilemmas are:
- If there are shortages in the number of clinicians who deliver patient care then ethical issues will arise. In such a scenario only those who have the reach and can pull strings will be able to get adequate treatment; whereas those who do not have any inside contacts might not get attended
- Another important factor is cost containment. Lot of times, clinics and hospitals ask staff to leave to manage costs which leads to inadequate staffing levels. Similarly, they might not have proper equipment or if they have the equipment they are not maintained properly, all in the name of reducing cost
- Ineffective leadership can also give rise to ethical issues. Leadership is extremely important. If the leader is morally and ethically strong then it will percolate down to the team. Else, the team will work and behave as they deem fit. If the leader does not set proper guidelines or does not lead by example then the entire operations can become ethically challenged
Given below are a few best practices which can be followed by healthcare teams to avoid moral and ethical issues:
- The code of ethics that are laid down by the clinic should be followed as well as supported. So if there is a case where someone tries to override the code, the hospital administration should enforce it and support it so that people do not ignore it
- Teaching ethics can be a good way to enforce it. If people are regularly educated about the kind of ethical values that need to be followed and the type of moral values that will be condoned, that will help the hospital staff to carry themselves accordingly
I am sure everyone would agree that people want to be ethically and morally correct in whatever they do. However, sometimes people are faced with tough decisions which make them do things which they do not believe in. Healthcare professionals though, have to do the right thing. In fact, they have to do whatever it takes to save a person’s life. For them that is their ethic and that is their moral.