Healthcare professionalism, ethics, and patient welfare are mandatory when an individual works in the healthcare field. These are not options for medical professionals. Professionalism and ethical behaviors are necessary choices to ensure patient welfare and safety, deliver quality healthcare, and to maintain the respect of the medical profession. Professionalism, ethics, and patient welfare are explored in the essay.Patient Welfare
Patient welfare is at the heart of the medical field. Goals of creating and maintaining an environment of compassion, vigilance, and competency throughout the spectrum of care are essential and important. Nothing else really matters if patient welfare and safety are not accomplished. Mindful patient welfare requires being aware of errors and ensuring that they do not occur, are reduced, and that lessons are learned to completely remove the risks immediately and in the future. “Besides the obvious harm to patients, preventable adverse health care events related to patient safety have major financial consequences for the patient, the provider, the insurer, and often the family and caregivers” (Stone, Hughes, & Dailey, 2008).
Many healthcare facilities are rated on a pay-for-performance basis and have mandatory reporting of adverse patient safety problems, which provides an incentive to perform well and to continuously improve patient welfare and safety (Stone et al., 2008). Patient welfare and safety require the commitment of all healthcare professionals in the setting to perform efficiently and effectively, including having a positive attitude about the workplace, working together as a team, reducing risk of injuries and exposures, maintaining a clean workplace with appropriate hygiene practices, and reducing conflict, along with providing a supportive environment (Stone et al., 2008). It is clear from research, that patient and employee success outcomes are directly related and that each must continuously be evaluated to improve outcomes, knowledge, safety, and turnover, costs, along with ensuring a successful patient welfare climate. Behavior, attitudes, and motivations are key elements associated with patient welfare and safety, as well as professionalism and ethics.
Professionalism has many definitions ranging from being able to acquire and apply a body of knowledge and skills, having a shared commitment, abiding by regulations, having a contract to heal, and being ethical (Kirk, 2007). As a medical professional, the right and best choices for patient healing take priority, and should include scientific and clinical evidence that takes into account the patient’s values and preferences (Kirk, 2007). As a professional in the medical field, patient welfare is first and foremost, and must consider the patient’s trust and interests; next there is patient autonomy that demands honesty when dealing with patients, along with educating them and empowering them when medical decisions need to be made; and then there is social justice, which takes into consideration all the resources available to the professional and takes into account the patients needs and care (Kirk, 2007). Having professionalism creates responsibility for the medical professional and is a reminder always to put the care and welfare of the patient first.
“Healthcare Ethics involves making well researched and considerate decisions about medical treatments, which considers the patient’s beliefs and wishes about all aspects of their health” (Md-health.com, 2015). With this in mind, every healthcare setting is required to establish a code of ethics that all medical professionals must sign and honor on a daily basis. Ethics is clearly defined policies and procedures that determine the appropriate conduct for all employees, and while ethic codes provide guidelines that are used to solve problems, each situation that involves an ethics’ choice must be evaluated uniquely and separately to address the issue that presents the challenge (Md-health.com, 2015). Issues that occur under ethics are numerous. Confidentiality is one of the main ethical issues, and it is concerned with the protection of the patient’s private information, including conversations regarding the patient, safeguarding medical records (Md-health.com, 2015). The transmission of diseases is another area of concern and it is particularly critical for phlebotomy employees and other employees that come in contact with patient secretions and pathogens; this requires the knowledge of the health history of the patient to be shared with all employees that might have contact with a patient (Md-health.com, 2015). Another ethical concern is patient welfare, which specifically requires the safeguarding of the patient’s welfare, as it relates to privacy, honesty, discrimination, and safety (Md-health.com, 2015).
There are other ethical issues that a medical professional might encounter. With an aging population, the care and decision making that occurs related to elderly patients is important. Elderly patients do not always have the ability to think clearly and rationally, so decisions about care are directed at the patient’s family; these decisions are very critical when dealing with a terminally ill patient, and if a medical professional disagrees with the direction the patient and their family are taking regarding care or any decision they make, the professional must honor their wishes (Md-health.com, 2015). Special wishes of elderly patients might concern euthanasia (Md-health.com, 2015). Ethics is concerned with the types of interventions and therapies that a patient chooses or a medical professional recommends; when therapies and healing techniques do not deliver the anticipated outcome, there will be hearings and investigations that take place for all employees involved in the patient care (Md-health.com, 2015). Ethical guidelines address sexual harassment that might occur at a healthcare setting between employees and patients; sexual ethics is usually considered and reviewed if any sexual activity or sexual behavior occurs (Md-health.com, 2015). Broader areas of ethics include healthcare advertising, marketing practices, and information used in brochures.
Patient welfare, professionalism, and ethics are intertwined and dramatically impact patient care and safety, from a healing perspective and holistic perspective. Essentially they must all exist as concerns of any healthcare facility. These elements impact patient experience, employee turnover, and the long-term viability of the healthcare facility, and when combined create the ability to resolve patient issues and concerns in a morally, structured and responsible manner.
- Kirk, L. (2007). Professionalism in medicine: definitions and considerations for teaching. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent, (20), 13-16.
- Md-health.com,. (2015). Ethical Issues in Healthcare | MD-Health.com. Retrieved December 2015, from http://www.md-health.com/Ethical-Issues-In-Healthcare.html
- Stone, P., Hughes, R., & Dailey, M. (2008). Creating a Safe and High-Quality Health Care Environment. Agency For Healthcare Research And Quality (US). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2634/