In Pozgar’s medical ethics case study, “Physician Lacks Compassion”, a patient misses a much-needed and long-awaited appointment with a rheumatology specialist physician (Pozgar, 2016, p.347). Even after explaining her desperate situation with the office scheduler, she is told of the physician’s busy schedule and that her appointment cannot be rescheduled for another month. Even though the patient is negotiating with the office scheduler and not the physician himself, it is the responsibility of the physician to ensure the medical staff follows their own professional code of ethics as well. The medical-ethical issues involved with the case study involve the physician’s responsibility to provide competent medical care with compassion and respect, to uphold the standards of professionalism, and to regard the responsibility to his patient as paramount (“AMA CODE OF MEDICAL ETHICS,” n.d.).
One of the most important, and sometimes more difficult responsibilities, of healthcare employees, is to provide their patients with compassionate care. The first principle of the American Medical Association Code of Ethics stresses the value of compassion: “A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights” (“AMA CODE OF MEDICAL ETHICS,” n.d.). Concerns about substandard patient care and lack of compassion being a contributing factor have raised questions about healthcare professionals being prepared for the challenges of their fields (Sinclair et al., 2016). Compassion is an indicator of quality health care and is expected not only by patients, but also by their families, fellow healthcare workers, and policymakers. It is also the duty of hospitals to employ competent, well-qualified, credentialed, and professional physicians, as well as medical staff (Pozgar, 2016, p.270). Competence incorporates knowledge, abilities, and skills, and is achieved by healthcare workers through pre-employment education, on-the-job training, and experience (Kak, Burkhalter, & Cooper, n.d.).
Assessing and monitoring the competence and credentials of health care workers is essential for determining the ability and commitment of health workers to provide quality health care services. The relationship between physician and patients is critical for the general health and/or curative success of the patient and requires equal cooperation by both parties. Pozgar presents the following guidelines as methods to improve relationships between physician and patient and lessen the probability of malpractice: providing personalized treatment and planning; performing a complete assessment/history; not being dismissive; allowing adequate time for care; maintaining records; requesting consultations; closely monitoring condition and progress; not promising unrealistic results; provide for continuous coverage during off times; not overextending the practice; and not being careless with patient relationships (Pozgar, 2016, p.364-365).
These parameters should be a part of an ongoing commitment, continuous quality improvement processes, consistent training, and updating of skills. In Pozgar’s case study, “Physician Lacks Compassion”, a desperate patient is denied a timely rescheduled appointment by the office scheduler. All healthcare workers, including physicians, are obligated to practice and adhere to their professional codes of ethics. It is also the obligation of physicians to be aware of the policies and practices of their medical staff to ensure that the needs of their patients are being met in a timely, courteous, and professional manner.
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