Unpacking the Ethics of Modern Healthcare in America
Ethics are being brought into question in the US. Click here to learn about the ethics of medicine in America.
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Unpacking the Ethics of Modern Healthcare in America
The American healthcare system is multi-faceted and constantly evolving, striving to provide the best possible care to its patients. Ethics, derived from the Greek word ethos, meaning character or custom, plays a pivotal role in this evolution. However, as the healthcare landscape continues to change, questions arise regarding the ethics of modern healthcare in America.
This article delves deep into the ethical codes that guide various healthcare professionals, explores patient-centered care, and addresses potential ethical pitfalls in contemporary healthcare practices.
Ethical Principles Guiding Healthcare Professionals
With healthcare evolving rapidly, professionals are often recruited through physician staffing companies to ensure that there’s a blend of expertise and adherence to ethical standards. Different medical professionals, depending on their specialty, adhere to unique codes:
- American Medical Association: The physician’s code of ethics encompasses nine principles. The principles are confidentiality, continued study, human dignity, honesty, patient access to medical care, responsibility to improve community care, freedom of choice, responsibility to the patient, and responsibility to society. These principles prioritize patient care, accessibility to medical care for all, privacy, adherence to the law, upholding professional standards, and continuous education.
- American Nurses Association: The nursing code calls for compassion, prioritizing patients, ethical and professional conduct towards both patients and peers, continuous learning, and collaboration with other health professionals.
- National Association of Social Workers: The social workers’ code focuses on addressing social problems, challenging social injustices, valuing human worth, emphasizing the significance of human relationships, and advocating for volunteer work.
- American College of Healthcare Executives: The code for healthcare executives blends management and patient care. It mandates professionals to act ethically, adhere to laws, prioritize patient-centered care, and foster a conducive workplace environment.
The Role of Ethics Committees in Healthcare
Ethics committees in healthcare don’t pronounce judgments but play an advisory role. They educate and counsel clinical staff and administrators on ethical considerations related to patient care, policies, and procedures. They facilitate discussions to establish a robust code of ethics with stakeholders.
The Evolution of Patient-Centered Care
Recently, the significance of patient-centered care (PCC) has been amplified. This model empowers patients and their families in medical decision-making, ensuring patients are seen holistically rather than as passive recipients. The shift from a traditional healthcare model, which was rigid and hierarchical, to PCC demonstrates a progressive step to meet the contemporary needs of healthcare.
Concerning PCC, providers must exhibit respect, coordination, and clear communication, and ensure physical comfort and emotional support. By involving families and easing care access, the PCC model facilitates an improved patient experience.
However, as illustrated by the case of Mrs. Z – a patient who had a 20-year journey to arrive back home from hospital care – the principles of PCC can sometimes be at odds with cultural or familial perspectives, emphasizing the need for sensitivity and flexibility.
Ethical Pitfalls in Patient-Centered Care
While PCC has heralded a new era in healthcare, some experts argue that there is a potential for ethical missteps. The personalized connections and shared decision-making, core to PCC, can sometimes blur boundaries. For instance, there’s a risk of infringing on a patient’s privacy or overstepping into their matters, which challenges the ethical principles of privacy and respect. A reliance on physician staffing companies to ensure that healthcare professionals are adequately trained in the tenets of PCC can potentially help navigate these challenges.
The Crucial Benefits of Patient-Centered Care
The efficacy of PCC is evident from the benefits it brings. Patients treated under the PCC model report higher satisfaction levels, are more inclined to seek regular care, and generally experience improved health outcomes. The model aligns with the trend towards value-added care, where reimbursement is based on health outcomes rather than treatments provided. Families, when kept in the loop, also feel more satisfied and are equipped to support post-discharge care.
The American healthcare system, in its journey towards better care, grapples with ethical dilemmas. By understanding and addressing these challenges, particularly in the sphere of patient-centered care, the system can aspire to offer holistic and ethically sound care to its patients. As healthcare continues to advance, it becomes increasingly essential to revisit and refine its ethical standards, ensuring that patient well-being remains at the core of all decisions.