Every day, patients, families and healthcare professionals face ethical and legal decisions. These difficult dilemmas may concern medical treatments, practices, hospital management and other matters that arise in the healthcare industry. Ethical issues in healthcare can require an immediate response, such as making decisions for patients when they are not able to do so, or can involve a prolonged, carefully considered decision, such as the debate over the right to abortion or assisted suicide. The actions taken in ethical issues in healthcare clearly distinguish between what is right and wrong, and often, many of the actions taken today can have lasting effects on healthcare in the future.
There are numerous ethical challenges clinical leaders, health practitioners and patients face in healthcare. Some examples of common medical ethical issues include:
1. Patient Privacy and Confidentiality
The protection of private patient information is one of the most important ethical and legal issues in the field of healthcare. Conversations between a physician and a patient are strictly confidential, as is information about an individual’s medical condition. Specific provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, define exactly what information can be released and to whom.
2. Transmission of Diseases
The recent global outbreak of the Ebola virus put a renewed emphasis on the right of healthcare providers to protect themselves from communicable diseases, whether by direct or indirect contact with an infected patient. Ethical and legal questions arise when a patient’s health history is not provided to the medical staff.
Sexual relationships between medical practitioners and patients or between medical staff are strictly forbidden at a healthcare facility. Sexual harassment can be harmful to all involved, including the facility, so the code of ethics should be explicit about this.
4. End-of-Life Issues
Terminally ill patients may have specific wishes about the way they want their lives to end. Families may struggle with the decision to end life support for a loved one. Healthcare practitioners and clinical leaders need to be prepared to handle end-of-life issues as well as problems encountered in dealing with elderly patients who may not be able to make rational decisions on their own.
Ethical Issues in Healthcare in an Online MBA Program
The rapid growth of the medical industry in the United States has created an increasing demand for skilled clinical leaders who understand the complexity and challenges of health systems, practices and ethical issues. An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a specialization in healthcare management includes general management along with accounting and marketing strategies. Typical foundational courses in an online MBA program in healthcare management include legal and ethical issues in healthcare. An MBA graduate in healthcare management will be ready to improve patient care from a business perspective at the departmental or organizational level.
Learn more about the UT Tyler online MBA in Healthcare Management.