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Unit #4 – Medical Ethics. Cecile M. Sanders, M.Ed., MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA). Unit #4 Medical Ethics. What is “ethics”? According to the American College Dictionary, “ethics” means: 1. The principles of morality, including both the science of the good and the nature of the right

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unit 4 medical ethics

Unit #4 – Medical Ethics

Cecile M. Sanders, M.Ed., MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA)

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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • What is “ethics”?
    • According to the American College Dictionary, “ethics” means:

1. The principles of morality, including both the science of the good and the nature of the right

2. The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions, as in “medical ethics”

3. Moral principles, as of an individual

4. The science of the human character in its ideal state

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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • In a nutshell, “ethics” means doing what is right.
  • So, what is “right”?
  • “Right” depends on your values
  • “Values”, in terms of societal interaction, refer to the ideals and customs toward which a person or group of person has a positive regard.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • “Values” can be a positive thing, like cleanliness, freedom, education, etc. or a negative thing, like cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.
  • What are YOUR values?
  • One can hardly argue with things like cleanliness, freedom or education, but we all know there are people who don’t value these things.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • In some cultures, freedom is not important.
  • In some cultures, it is OK to send suicide bombers into a crowd of innocent people just because they are trying to make a point or disagree with others’ values.
  • So, again, what are YOUR values?
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Here are things that many people value:
    • Honesty
    • Integrity
    • Freedom
    • Loyalty
    • Life
    • Friendship
    • Family
    • Timeliness
    • Hard-work
    • Truthfulness
    • Religion
    • Etc., etc., etc.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • All of us have values even though we may not know it or admit it to ourselves.
  • Sometimes our values don’t make themselves apparent until we are confronted with a tough issue or decision.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • For instance:
    • If you value honesty,
      • Is it OK to keep extra money that a store clerk has returned to you accidentally?
      • Is it OK to call in sick when you are not?
      • Is it OK to “fudge” laboratory results when you need to leave work to pick up your children at day care?
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • If you value life,
    • Is it OK to have an abortion?
    • Is it OK to disconnect a feeding tube from a comatose patient?
    • Is it OK to bomb innocent people?
    • Is it OK to have capital punishment?
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • If you value friendship,
    • Is it OK to tell a friend a lie?
    • Is it OK to turn a friend in to the police if he has committed a crime?
  • I think you get the idea that although one may say they hold a certain value doesn’t mean that they would always act to hold that value.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Most professions have established a Code of Conduct or a Code of Ethics for people in the field
    • Example: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, Nurses take the Florence Nightingale Oath
    • The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences has established a Code of Ethics for clinical laboratory professionals. It can be found at


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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • The ASCLS Code of Ethics basically states that all laboratory professionals have:
    • I. Duty to the Patient
    • II. Duty to Colleagues and the Profession
    • III. Duty to Society
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • ASCLS Pledge to the ProfessionAs a clinical laboratory professional, I strive to:
    • Maintain and promote standards of excellence in performing and advancing the art and science of my profession
    • Preserve the dignity and privacy of others
    • Uphold and maintain the dignity and respect of our profession
    • Seek to establish cooperative and respectful working relationships with other health professionals
    • Contribute to the general well being of the community.

I will actively demonstrate my commitment to these

responsibilities throughout my professional life.

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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • The ASCLS Code of Ethics and Pledge to the Profession can serve as a “moral compass” to guide clinical laboratory professionals in their jobs and even in their interactions with friends and family.
  • Decision-making can be tough in any situation, but particularly tough when you are a recent graduate or when you are the only person working in the lab when a decision is needed.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Here is one of many decision-making models, based on personal and/or professional values:
    • 1. State the problem
    • 2. Determine personal or professional values regarding the problem
    • 3. List the possible alternative solutions to the problem
    • 4. Frame a choice from the possible alternative solutions and compare it with personal or professional values
    • 5. List the short and long term consequences of the choice
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model
    • The Lead MLT is the only staff person left in the lab on a Saturday evening. Two technicians arrive for the midnight shift. One of the technicians seems to be under the influence of something; her gait is unsteady and her speech is slurred.
    • What to do?
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model (cont’d)
    • Using the Decision-Making Model outlined on slide #15, this is what the Lead MLT decided:
      • 1. The problem is that this midnight tech might be drunk or under the influence of some drug and her ability to function may be impaired.
      • 2. The Lead MLT values excellent patient care and accurate laboratory testing. He also values maintaining a good working relationship with the midnight tech and her friendship. Too, he values his free time and a good night’s sleep.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model (cont’d)
      • 3. The Lead MLT could:
        • A. Stay for a double shift, assigning the midnight MLT to harmless tasks
        • B. He could warn the other midnight tech about this possibly impaired MLT, leave, and hope for the best
        • C. He could call his supervisor for a decision
        • D. He could ignore the situation and hope for the best
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model (cont’d)
      • 4. This Lead MLT chose alternative D (ignored the situation and hoped for the best). He decided that his friendship with this person and maintaining a good working relationship with her, along with wanting his free time and a good night’s sleep, was priority.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model (cont’d)
      • 5. Short-term consequences of his decision include:
        • A. The Lead MLT could go home and not work a double shift.
        • B. His supervisor would not have to be disturbed.
        • C. The impaired employee could work with no reprimands.
      • 6. Long- term consequences are that laboratory errors could affect patient care.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • Example of using the Value-Based Decision-Making Model (cont’d)
    • Is this the decision you would have made? Maybe, maybe not. It is difficult to know until you are actually in that situation.
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Unit #4Medical Ethics
  • In the Assignment for this Unit, go to http://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/
  • On the home page for this website, click the “Ethics Poll” tab at the top of the page.
  • Then click on “all polls”; it is a tiny link beneath the “Ethics Poll” heading and next to the “print” link.
  • Click on the April 2008 poll on “Immigrants and Medical Care”.
  • Take the Poll, as directed. Click the “Vote” button at the bottom to view the results.
  • Copy and paste the results in a Word document AND, using the 5 step decision-making model in this PowerPoint, outline the steps you used to arrive at your voting results.
  • Send the Assignment to the instructor by the scheduled deadline.