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  1. Additional Bonus Material MSSWA 2013 Spring Conference March 25, 2013

  2. Bonus Material • The rest of this PowerPoint is additional material related to legal obligations and Professional Duty

  3. Ethical Decision Making • Legal obligations • Duty of Care-laws governing provision of services • Duty to respect privacy • Duty to maintain confidentiality • Duty to inform-legal requirements about information regarding services • Duty to report-reporting criminal behavior • Duty to warn-warning potential victims of violence

  4. Duty of Care • You are legally obligated to provide a reasonable standard of care • In terms of school social work, you are expected to be knowledgeable about laws and policies related to special education services, mandatory reporting laws-do you have others? • Professional record-keeping is part of this-what practices do you have related to this?

  5. Duty of care…. • Your social work activities need to be “congruent with generally accepted theory and research” • You need to have a sound professional rationale and evidence to support what you are doing • Unusual interventions that do not have a sound rationale and evidence to support their safety can increase your liability

  6. Duty to Respect Privacy • Under most circumstances you are not entitled to intrude on the privacy of those you work with • Includes imposing your religious beliefs unless asked specifically to do so • Clients have a right to basic privacy

  7. Duty to Maintain Confidentiality • Information shared with you is not to be shared with third parties • In general, material shared by clients is their property, not yours • Under most circumstances, clients must give informed consent before you can share information • This can be especially challenging in a school setting

  8. Duty to inform • It is your responsibility to inform clients about policies and laws that could affect the services they the school setting, this might be parents regarding their children’s right to services • You should give clients information about your qualifications as also be honest regarding your limitations

  9. Duty to Report • You need to be clear about your responsibility as a mandated reporter and your legal obligation to report if someone’s life is at risk • A social worker must have with reasonable evidence to conclude that the client poses a risk of harm. “Suspicion alone is insufficient” (United States v. Hayes, 6th Cir, 2000)

  10. Duty to Warn and Protect • Tarasoff v. California Board of Regents established that helping professionals are obligated to take some action to protect the lives of third parties • Some actions can violate some aspects of a client’s right to confidentiality and privacy • Be very careful to document exactly what was said and also what you then did

  11. Difference Between Law and Professional Ethics • At times, a practitioner may follow the law but be acting unethically • Past laws regarding mandatory sterilization • Laws about reporting and deportation of illegal immigrants • Social workers may break the law for ethically principled reasons but there is a general assumption that we have an ethical duty to obey the law

  12. NASW Code on this topic • “Instances may arise when social workers ethical obligations conflict with…relevant laws or regulations. When such conflicts occur, social workers must make a responsible effort to resolve the conflict in a manner that is consistent with the values, principles and standards expressed in the Code. If a reasonable resolution of the conflict does not appear possible, social workers should seek proper consultation before making a decision”

  13. Malpractice and Unethical Behavior • Unethical Activity-when one departs from the usual practice that a “prudent professional” would have rendered in the same situation • Unethical behavior-violates the professional principles and standards of the profession’s Code • Failure to provide a proper professional service can lead to malpractice/civil suits; failure to provide ethical service can lead to sanctions

  14. Most common malpractice • Boundary violations-40% sexual relationships • Incorrect treatment-what might this be in the school setting? • Suicide of patients • Dual relationships (non sexual) • Urban areas more likely to have complaints of boundary violations, including dual rolesKNOWLEDGE AND GOOD PRACTICE ARE THE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST LIABILITY