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A community can only prosper if its members follow values and principles to guide them in behaviors that are good and proper. Ethical values direct us in our everyday lives because they are ingrained in our society. Given the scope of their disciplines, health care professionals must frequently make decisions based on ethical and legal issues. Therefore, it is important to learn the ethical principles, professional code of ethics, and legal aspects that guide the profession so that we can be knowledgeable about ethical decision making when dilemmas arise.
Each day health care professionals make ethical decisions in the performance of their regular duties, some of which may have legal implications. For example, a clinician receives a heavier workload than normal due to a staffing shortage on the shift. The problem is further compounded by several time-consuming emergencies that arise during the shift, resulting in the clinician requesting help from coworkers and supervisors to help prioritize the workload. While prioritizing, scheduled routine treatments for two patients are delayed for several hours. This is an ethical dilemma that could become a legal matter if one of the patients whose treatment was delayed develops minor or major complications attributable to the delay.
Ethical decisions in the health professions may also involve decisions without a direct impact on patient health but may instead relate to professional conduct, such as respecting patient privacy by refraining from discussing a case in public places (e.g., elevators, during lunch, on social media). In modern society—particularly among the health professions—ethics and the professional codes of ethics can guide us in performing our duties with professionalism and in a way that is legally appropriate.
California RTs - This course is not approved to fulfill your law & ethics requirement.
New Jersey & Nevada RTs - This course fulfills your ethics requirement.
- Openly and objectively discuss and evaluate professional moral dilemmas.
- Describe the main differences across various schools of ethical theory (e.g., utilitarianism, deontologic ethics (Kantianism), social contract theory, virtue ethics).
- Recognize the principles that guide ethical decision making in the health professions.
- Identify and define the major legal principles in the health professions.
- Explain the nature of moral dilemmas prior to analyzing them and proposing a solution.
Julio F. Turrens, PhD, is Associate Dean and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. He received his doctorate degree in chemistry (biochemistry) from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to his career in basic research, he has taught several courses in the areas of bioethics and responsible conduct of research to both undergraduate and graduate students. He designed the senior-level Issues in Biomedical Sciences course that cover various topics ranging from ethics in society, science, and research integrity and the graduate-level course Responsible Conduct of Research. He has been publicly recognized for his experience in teaching responsible conduct among researchers and how to detect scientific fraud. He has given presentations at various institutions and has served as a book reviewer for the National Academy of Sciences.
- You must pass the final exam with a grade of 75% or higher and complete the course evaluation to earn contact hours and receive a certificate of completion.
- Contact hours will be awarded for up to one (1) year from the date the course is ordered, unless otherwise indicated with an expiration date.
- Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
- All persons involved in the planning and development of this activity have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to this activity.