Ethics Scenarios in the Healthcare Workplace

The Affair

The scenario involves the affair between Bobby and Leanne, the employees of the hospital, and the aftermath, which ensued after Bobby has confessed the affair to his wife, Kara. While the affairs are a considerable breach of workplace ethics, this particular scenario focuses on another sensitive issue often resulting from it – rumors (Robertson, 2005). By the end of the story, at least one adverse effect of the affair is noticeable – Leanne claims to disrupt Bobby’s work by not issuing the required medications. While this threat may not be executed, other negative consequences are likely, with the tension between co-workers being the primary concern.

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The ethics committee would be particularly useful in this setting. First, the immediate intervention could benefit the situation. For instance, Bobby could have sought the consultation of the committee before disclosing the details to his wife. The reason for additional caution is Kara’s position as a lead supervisor, which grants her the possibility of spreading rumors on a large scale. As we can see from the scenario, Kara showed unacceptable irresponsibility in abusing her position, so the proper discussion of the consequences of her actions might have been useful to at least minimize the impact (which is already visible given the threats Leanne has voiced).

However, of even greater importance are the preventive measures in the form of educating the staff on sensitive ethical topics, which is among the main functions of the committee (McLean, 2007). Had the committee members been facilitating education about the danger of rumors in a workplace environment, the described situation would be less likely to occur, and even if Kara had lost her temper, the employees who had been exposed to the rumors would be less interested in spreading them.

The Slackers

The scenario indicates the presence of several ethical principles that are exploited by Tom, Bobby, and Rick. First, while it may seem that Dr. Ben G. demonstrates recklessness in issuing medications and getting the signatures on the forms of consent, it also contributes to building trust between employees if exercised correctly. Second, the nurses are seen as discussing the possibility of reporting their shortcomings, which suggests that the whistleblowing culture is promoted at the hospital. At the same time, the fact that they turn down the option of reporting shows inconsistencies in the implementation of the culture.

The ethics committee thus need to pay additional attention to promoting the importance of such actions and the challenges associated with them (Firtko & Jackson, 2005). Usually, the net benefits of reports are voiced while the difficulties the employee needs to overcome are omitted. As a result, the personnel does not readily adhere to the practice.

Another improvement the hospital culture could benefit from is the education events promptly illustrating the adverse effects of hygiene and trash disposal violations. While it is highly unlikely that any of the nurses are unaware of the consequences of such negligence, the scenario clearly shows their deliberate effort to avoid the basic rules and cover it up with lies. An intuitive course of action for a health administrator would be to fire the three violators.

However, their presence is a signal of inconsistencies in educational activities at the hospital, so proper measures need to be taken. Finally, the presence of Tom, Bobby, and Rick probably means that the hiring procedures need to be reworked to exclude further emergence of the untrained personnel. In its current state, the staff is visibly repelled, which compromises the functionality of both the medical (increased infection rates) and business (patient satisfaction) side of the facility (Lankshear, Sheldon, & Maynard, 2005).

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Firtko, A., & Jackson, D. (2005). Do the ends justify the means? Nursing and the dilemma of whistleblowing. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23(1), 51.

Lankshear, A. J., Sheldon, T. A., & Maynard, A. (2005). Nurse staffing and healthcare outcomes: a systematic review of the international research evidence. Advances in Nursing Science, 28(2), 163-174.

McLean, S. A. (2007). What and who are clinical ethics committees for?. Journal of medical ethics, 33(9), 497-500.

Robertson, R. G. (2005). Rumors: constructive or corrosive. Journal of medical ethics, 31(9), 540-541.

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