One topic covered in the informatics subspecialty exam is the area of ethical concepts and theories. Considering we haven’t really read up on theories and concepts like these since undergrad, we decided to do a short little refresher with some terms as well as clinical applications. Enjoy!
Ethical concepts are abstract thoughts and ideas that deal with ethics.
Autonomy – Freedom from external control or influence; independence.
Clinical Example: Informed consent
Beneficence/ Nonmaleficence – Action that is done for the benefit of others/ An obligation not to inflict harm intentionally
Clinical Example: The Hippocratic Oath – Maximize good, minimize harm
Best Interest Standard – Determining the best interest of an individual who cannot make decisions him or herself
Clinical Example: Making decisions on the patient’s behalf when a patient cannot make an informed decision
Fidelity – Faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support
Clinical Example: Patient trust of healthcare providers
Justice – Just behavior and treatment to all people
Clinical Example: Healthcare reimbursement limits for providers, deciding who receives an organ transplant
Rights – Entitlement or claim others are obliged to respect
Clinical Example: Privacy and confidentiality laws
Veracity – Habitual truthfulness
Clinical Example: Use of placebos in medical research, full disclosure by patients
Ethical theories systematize, defend and recommend concepts of right and wrong conduct, often addressing disputes of moral diversity.
Two major ethical theories are:
Utilitarianism – The theorythat actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority
Clinical Example: Managed care that provides a salary to clinicians regardless of the types, quality, or quantity of services rendered
Deontology – The study of the nature of duty and obligation
Clinical Example: Clinical research involving humans
McWay, D. C. (2008). Today’s health information management: an integrated approach. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.