Using “Bioethics on NBC’s ER: Betraying Trust or Providing Good Care? When Is It Ok
to Break Confidentiality?,” write a paper of 750-1,000 words in which you describe your
professional position regarding patient confidentiality.
- Explain the ethical implications of a breach of confidentiality.
- Provide ethical theories and/or ethical principles (from among those introduced in your
readings) to substantiate your position.
- Identify a reasonable alternative to address the dilemma presented in the article using a
framework of ethical decision making presented in lecture or in your readings. Explain the
significance of applying this framework.
- Explain how an ethics committee might approach the dilemma using ethical theories,
principles, and a collaborative approach to ethical decision making.
The above link is for the article we are to refer to for this paper.
Applying Ethical Frameworks in Practice
Ethics refers to the making of decisions based on what is wrong and right. It is required
that all practitioners adhere to ethical standards in their operations. The decisions that they make
should not violate the established ethical standards. One of the ethical requirements that they are
required to be adhere to is patient confidentiality. The paper focuses various ethical theories,
principles and how they have implications to the patients’ confidentiality.
A patient has the right to confidentiality of the information that they provide to the
practitioners. As a professional, it is important to ensure that the information that is provided to
you is not passed to a third party unless the law permits it or the information is very essential in
avoiding further harm to the members of the public.
APPLYING ETHICAL FRAMEWORKS IN PRACTICE 2
Some of the ethical implications of a breach of confidentiality are that it may lead to
reluctance on the part of the clients to disclose information to the practitioners for the perceived
fear of lack of confidentiality. Some of the patients may decide not to seek medical care and this
has grave ramifications on their health. Therefore, the trust and confidence they have to their
practitioners will be eroded thus leading to provision of ineffective therapies that will greatly
affect the quality of healthcare (Pamela, 2000). Breaching of confidentiality will also reduce the
level of respect as the individual’s privacy and individual rights are not respected. The
physicians will not be able to earn the patient’s trust because the patient will have the feeling of
betrayal for the failure to ensure that privacy is upheld.
Ensuring that patient confidentiality is supported by the deontology theory which requires
that people always adhere to their duties and obligations whenever they are analyzing an ethical
dilemma; Making a decision to hold any confidential information or not is an ethical dilemma
that requires appropriate decision-making. In such circumstances it therefore, is important to
follow or make a decision by following his or her obligations to another person or the society.
Ethical standards should always be followed and the required law adhered at all the time. I will
also respect the autonomy of an individual. I believe that people have their own ways of living
and making their lifestyles and must respect that. If someone for instance does not want this
information to be disclosed it is right to respect this autonomy. I will also apply the principle of
beneficence by always doing that which is good as opposed to bad as people benefit from that
which is good.
Various frameworks can be used in the making of right decisions in circumstances where
there is an ethical dilemma. In this article for instance, there is an ethical dilemma of whether
disclosing confidential information about her cervical cancer. The reasonable alternative to
APPLYING ETHICAL FRAMEWORKS IN PRACTICE 3
handle this dilemma is to actually, discuss with the girl because she is a minor and still in the
hands of the parents on the right way of passing this information to the parents (Pamela, 2000).
The patients’ confidentially will be breached because, the girl is a minor and she at risk, and
therefore to avoid such risk and harm, it is appropriate that they tell their parents about the
situation to ensure that the girl is well taken care off. If possible, it will be important for the girl
to inform their parents themselves.
In reaching this decision, it is important to recognize an ethical issue as to whether the
decision is damaging to the girl or whether the alternative is good or bad, legal or not. I will then
get the facts about the parties that are of interest and options of acting as to whether to involve all
groups or not. Alternative actions will then be evaluated by asking various questions pertaining
to the best option to produce good and least harm, respects the rights of the parties involved, best
serves the community and so forth (Santa Clara University, 2013). After evaluating, then I will
act and reflect about the outcomes.
Applying this framework is important as it ensures that the right decision is reached. It
provides a systematic way of making the right decisions by considering or factoring in various
aspects such as determining the ethical problem in the issue and looking at various alternatives
that provide the best options. Facts about the issues are also looked into and the best alternative
is evaluated before being selected. This therefore ensures that there are no gaps in the decision
An ethical committee can also approach the dilemma and come up with an ethical
decision. One of the theories this committee can use as a guide in reaching or arriving at their
ethical decision is the utilitarianism theory. The decision they reach should be good and do the
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least harm to the parties involved. The committee must therefore reach a decision to ensure that
their decision is good for the girl and the parents because they are the key stakeholders.
Furthermore, the decision reached should factor in the principal of justice by nursing fairness to
all the parties involved (Catherine, 2013).
In conclusion I can state that ethics are very essential in any dealings and health
professionals have the obligation of ensuring that they adhere to ethical standards especially
when dealing with ethical dilemma cases. Patients’ confidentially must be enhanced and
promoted. This confidentiality can however to be breached in specific scenarios or situations for
example where the law supports it, when it presents harm to others and in situations that concern
the welfare of the public.
Catherine, R. (2013). Descriptions of ethical theories and principles.
Pamela, N. (2000). Bioethics on NBC’S ER: Betraying Trust or Providing Good Care? When is it
okay to break confidentiality?
Santa Clara University. (2013). A framework for thinking ethically.