Ethical and Legal Concepts in Human Services

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While ethics and law go hand in hand they both have different perspectives. Law is enforced, whether it is by the police, courts or administrators. Ethics comes from within and are inherited over time through family and the community. While both areas take a different approach, in the healthcare organizations the main purpose is to make sure that the patient safety is key and that quality of healthcare is universal. The health care industry is one the largest regulated industries in the world, this is why laws and code of ethics have been put into place to protect the patient. Every time an organization or a healthcare professional provides services to a patient there is room for error and in return room for legal and ethical violations. Education and training in these areas for all health care personnel is pertinent since perception is a major concern. We all think and see things differently and without regulations behind us we all could look at a situation and handle it in many different ways and if that was the case then how could we hold ourselves to a high level of care if that level of care is not defined. What is ethics? Ethics is defined as “a system of moral principles”. As a society we are held to a high standard of ethical behavior and we are held to a higher standard when it comes to our behavior in health and human services. Ethics in the medical field traces back for many years and most of the rules and regulations that we see today are based around ethical behavior. There are four key ethical principles that define what is expected of each person in and out of health and human services. These principals include; respect for persons, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. Respect for persons is compiled of telling the truth, confidentiality, fidelity and autonomy. Within the medical field it is important that people make informed decisions, always being honest is very important, this is where truth telling comes into place. Confidentiality is of up most importance, making sure that a person’s medical information is kept private is one of the most important things to remember in this profession. Also you must keep fidelity, this meaning that you keep your word. When telling patients about their care and making plans it is pertinent that you stick to your word and follow through. Remembering that in all cases respect must be in the front of your mind as we are unaware of what is going through our patients minds. Beneficence requires doing the best one can for the recipient of ones services (Buchbinder 2007). This principal is describing that we do not discriminate against any one for any reason. This means that as medical professionals we do all that we can for each and every patients regardless of demographic or cultural indifferences. For example, knowing that a patients is unable to pay for a life changing surgery does not mean that we do not give the patient the option to have it, we must treat every patient the same and with respect. Non-maleficence, meaning do no harm, or minimizing risk in many cases is also something that health care professionals must do. In some cases this cannot always be followed, some risks and harm to patients may need to be present in order to make the patient better but only in rare cases. In all other times medical professionals must use this principal to make sure that they are keeping their patients safe. The last principal around ethics is justice, this is one of the hardest principals to define. Justice is meaning that everything is done is a fair way. In health and human services this can be broken down into many different areas; one being patient care, other being allocation of funds and employee fairness. All areas of justice are equally important to any health care organization and need to be upheld at all times. Ethics can be perceived in many different ways depending on the person, the organization and each individual situation. There are many different ethical...
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