An ethical dilemma sometimes requires taking a quick decision, while at the same time it may require thorough consideration. One of the examples to illustrate this statement have taken place in my professional life. I feel bitter when recollecting this event. I oftentimes blame myself for having been wrong in that instance. However I am not quite sure, whether there was such a thing as a right solution.
Certainly, there is a criterion, which I need to stick to, and this criterion is determined by NASW code of Ethics. I am not to cause harm to people. And I tried not to. But, as reasonably remarked by Beckett & Maynard, it is not always easy to combine theory and practice when making decisions regarding professional values…
There was a woman, who desperately needed medication. At that time I was working as a substance abuse counselor at MMTP Methadone.A patient of ours had just left the hospital and was still very week. I needed bottles for her. Basically, it was my responsibility to have her medicated. It was not a part of my job in that particular instance to keep her away from substance misuse. Meanwhile, one circumstance was brought up. I got to know that the lady used to consume opioids a week ago. But I thought the two events – the one from a week ago and the current one had nothing to do with each other. I went ahead and asked my supervisor to approve the bottles. The supervisor refused. I think I ought to have given it all a better thought, but was there enough time really? Well, I then went ahead to insist and addressed the doctor. The doctor also disapproved. I had no other choice – I was in a hurry and had to call the state. Certainly, in this manner I broke the subordination, but I strongly believed: it was what I needed to do. The bottles were delivered, and… well, it was that very evening, when the patient died. I am not sure I am to blame for her death that night, but I have very significant doubts and suspicions, the ones, which are not comfortable to live with.
- Beckett, Chris & Maynard Andrew. (2005). “Values and Ethics in Social Work: An Introduction”. Sage.