The healthcare sector is one of the most critical success factors of any community. It is an important asset that keeps our world running smoothly. Doctors and other health care providers are the essential role players in the healthcare industry. However, like every other profession, doctors and other healthcare staff are bound to comply with ethical practices when dealing with their patients.
In general, medical ethics include examining a clinical case based on facts and logic to decide the best course of action for quality health care. Some ethical practices are relatively simple and relevant to your everyday life, such as distinguishing between right and wrong. In contrast, others might be too complicated such as choosing between the two rights based on the conflicts in the two values.
Healthcare experts worldwide deal with various ethical issues, such as testing the latest medical technology on their patients. Some of the common ethical violations observed in the healthcare sector are as follows:
- A breach in patient information confidentiality
Every health worker is bound to keep his or her patient’s information private under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rule. But quite more than often, we see doctors and other staff breaching the law. Sometimes, they share this information while hanging out among peers. Other times, they use patients’ history for education purposes. However, there are some conditions where you can disclose the data while keeping the person anonymous. Still, healthcare staff is obliged to keep it private as a violation of the law may lead to legal action.
That is why health workers are working to promote patient confidentiality. Today many hospitals prefer to hire professional health information management experts with a minimum of a masters degree in health information management and relevant experience. These professionals possess specialized knowledge regarding information management tools, software, and ways to prevent data breaches.
- Incorrect use of social media among health workers
While social media has opened doors to global communication, it has also caused similar ethical issues. It has made a lot easier for the doctors to display their life and educate the locals about health conditions. But while it is a good thing, it can pose some serious consequences as well.
If anyone misuses social media, it can put doctors and their workers at significant risk. Some examples of such threats include unethical use of shared information, patient security violations, and cyberbullying, which affects doctors and their patients.
That is why if you’re using social media to share information or to raise awareness, you have to maintain boundaries. It is a serious ethical issue that people generally ignore worldwide. Undoubtedly, the legal authorities’ failure to address this issue may pose several consequences on the healthcare industry at a broader scale.
- Health workers safety
We live in an era where digital media has somewhat prepared us to accept some unethical practices in healthcare settings. You might have seen some strange men entering into a health facility threatening or even being over-friendly with a doctor. All of these practices are ethical violations, and no one can behave like this in a healthcare facility.
There are strict rules that every staff member and the visitor should follow in order to maintain safety protocols for the workers. But sadly, there are still many people who practice ethical practices every day. Be it co-worker harassment or patient’s disrespect towards staff, these issues come to sight far frequently. Health workers put themselves at risk each day to save lives. But as the doctors are speaking up and demanding their rights, we hope to see some changes in hospital policies. Certainly, if we don’t secure and protect health workers, it’ll not only put them and the entire community at risk.
- Conflict of interest
Many sectors have become subject to the ethical violation of conflict of interest, and healthcare is one of them. It is a practice where health workers often prefer personal benefits like financial interest over patient care. Examples of such practices include the referral for unnecessary lab tests or prescription of medications from a specific company. Such referrals or prescription preferences provide hefty commissions to health experts from the referred labs and other pharmaceutical companies.
It is a huge issue that needs to be discussed and addressed on all platforms and falls into the category of unethical practices.
- Malpractice and Negligence in Healthcare
Healthcare staff’s negligence and malpractice in providing quality health care to their patients is yet another ethical issue common in the healthcare industry. According to recent statistics, every year, approximately 15,000 to 19,000 malpractice lawsuits occur against doctors. Besides, approximately 195,000 patients die each year due to preventable mistakes in healthcare. Given the increase in the frequency of these issues, it would not be wrong to say that healthcare experts often neglect some major aspects of patient care and compromise on ethical healthcare practices.
Some of the common examples of negligence include the use of defective medical equipment, taking incorrect patient vitals, delayed diagnosis, providing incorrect prescriptions, surgical or procedural errors, etc. Hence, it is the primary duty of healthcare administrators and managers to ensure that the healthcare staff performs all the responsibilities related to patient care with uttermost interest.
In a nutshell
Like any other industry, the healthcare industry also has to deal with some ethical problems. Here we discussed the common ones. Sometimes, the health workers are responsible for such practices, and other times, they become the victim of it. Hence, regulatory authorities must deal with ethical issues prevailing in the healthcare industry to ensure quality healthcare standards.