This document also sets forth guidelines as to how the organzation expects employees to conduct themselves when dealing with patrons, co-workers, and management. This code, also sets standards according to which the profession can be held accountable for the conduct of its members (Soskolne, 1989). In the health care field, there is no set regulatory authority that governs medical ethics. However, professional groups, hospitals, and certifying/accrediting boards have empahsized the importance of ethical principles through their own mission statements and procedures (Gabel, 2011). For the health care institutions to achieve the desired health related goals, they have to ensure that there are ethical practices within the system. The need for ethical practices in health care calls for an organizational code of ethics. While the need for ethical practices has been expressed at different levels of health care, many cases of unethical practices that compromise healthcare have been reported. An institutional code of ethics is fundamental to quality health care in health institutions. This code, not only sets the table for quality health care, but it also serves as a guideline for patient interactions and service measures.
Standardization is the key in the health care environment, which is why the American Medical Association has ensured there is the code of ethics in the healthcare system. When you think about the term ethical, it goes well beyond just practices and moral principles and policies, but also serves social implications as well. A code of ethics is all encompassing and covers everyone that works within the health care facility. Any violation of the standards set forth is considered to be unethical conduct and dealt with promptly. In addition to the organizational standards set forth, most medical professionals submit to their own personal code of ethics which usually mirror the organizational standards.
Hospitals often operate under particular code of ethics that are made up and derived from organizational goals and outcomes. At the Skyline Medical Center, in Nashville, TN, the code of ethics aims at improving patient outcome by respecting the rights of the patients. These goals are met by ensuring quality patient care and maintaining positive working relationships. I personally worked for this facility and can honestly say that the code of ethics are not just words on paper at this facility. Each morning the nursing directors hold a morning huddle, prior to the meeting the staff recites the mission statement and code of ethics. Additionally, they will nominate an ICARE award winner. The hospital recognizes its ethical responsibility to the law, careful consideration of the patients’ values and preferences, and to inform patients of their responsibilities in healthcare process. Some facilities, such as Baptist Hospital choose to combine both compliance and ethical policies. Its code of ethics seeks to foster the culture of accountability, integrity, and ethical conduct. The code of ethics requires that everyone in the institution to maintain ethical and transparent healthcare practices.
A study by McCullough (2005) places an emphasis on the role of physician leaders in the implementation of ethical practices through preventive measures. McCullough identified that there is the need for management to respond to ethical conflicts rapidly and effectively in the event that an ethical situation has occurred. However, if the situation develops over a long period without the knowledge of the physician executives, there can be a tremendous and sometimes irreversible damage to the culture of the health institution. Therefore, it is vital for management to become proactive rather than reactive to unethical practices in the healthcare situations (McCullough, 2005).
A literature search was useful for this study because of the many available studies on code of ethics and the impact on the quality of healthcare. The study used literature review to determine the crucial role of institutional code of ethics in helping the health professionals to deliver quality services. Several forms of materials are used in this review such as institutional reports, research study reports, and publications on code of ethics within the context of healthcare the method is less expensive for collecting information, and it yields a lot of data in a given area of concern (Limentani, 1998).
Although the American Medical Association (AMA) has set the tone for medical ethics, there is not a set governing body which monitors medical ethics in the United States. However, there are common themes amongst many organizations ethical policies. First and foremost is the integrity of the profession. In order to gain and maintain patients trust, all healthcare professionals must act with the utmost sense of integrity and professionalism. Maintaining and developing competence is also of utmost importance. Having the ability to correctly diagnose and treat patients in today’s ever-changing health care world is crucial. Some other more common ethical principles include, the patient having the right to information from the physicians and to discuss the benefits, consequences, and the costs of the alternative treatments. The patient has the right to respect, dignity, courtesy, timely attention, and responsiveness to their individual needs. All of these principles can be found in most every medical facilities ethical policies and procedures.
Within a healthcare facility, it should not be certain groups or individuals that are expected to follow the organizations ethical policy. As a member of the team, regardless of your role in patient care it is expected that you place the patient’s needs, safety, and security at the forefront. Everyone in the facility has access to a patient’s personally identifiable information, the physicians, nurses, and clinical staff all have access to the electronic medical records. However, environmental services staff have access to the patient’s room which can and often times does contain medical information. Dietary staff often has access to certain diagnosis and personal information. For these reasons it is an organizational code of ethics that the entire facility is held accountable to.
I would place heavy emphasis on the consent, communication & decision-making process of medical ethics. Having a well-informed patient that has not only been given all the information in regard to their health but understands what the possible outcomes might be should be foremost in every healthcare professionals mind. I also believe that privacy and confidentiality of medical records should be of utmost importance. Our patients come to us typically on their worst days, the last thing they should worry about is whether their personal information is safe. Honestly these should not even be ethical policies, they are simply the right thing to do it should just go without saying. There is no doubt there would not be an effective healthcare system if there were no code of ethics for healthcare professionals to fall back and relay upon. Code of ethics in the healthcare sector enables employees to practice and respectful treat clients by defining a strong standard of ethical behavior that they must maintain.
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