With the diversity in the health sector, both in the services provided and the different professionals offering these services in hospitals, it is only likely that ethical issues will come up time and again. This has resulted in the formation of hospital ethical committees with various roles aimed at ensuring that ethics are maintained for the good of every stakeholder (Fox, Myers, and Pearlman, 2007). In the United States, most hospitals are required to have ethics committees. Members of these committees vary from one institution to another but often include professionals in the health sector and other individuals with ethics backgrounds in support for health care institutions. The roles of these committees include providing clinical ethics consultations, developing policies and review of issues related to clinical ethics, and reviewing and advising on individual patient cases where there are difficult ethical concerns. This paper will analyze an ethical case whereby a physician is reported to bully other staff members in his service. Using the Anderson and Glesnes-Anderson (1987) model, the paper will assess the decision by the ethics committee on whether to dismiss the physician or not.
Some cases brought out in hospital ethics committees can be complicated and, therefore, making an effective judgment requires that several options are explored and the best and effective option selected (Morrison, 2009). In our case, the bully physician is the only pediatric oncologist on staff. This poses a dilemma to the committee since on the one hand, his position is critical, and his services are needed in the hospital, and on the other hand, bullying is unethical and unaccepted. In such cases, ethics committees will need to employ tools that will help them make decisions in the most effective and efficient manner. This is the point that ethics decision models come in handy as they provide a structure to handle cases that can be emotionally delicate. Anderson and Glesnes-Anderson (1987) provide a qualitative model that provides a rational and systematic approach to ethical issues. The approach helps to review alternative solutions and select the most appropriate one for implementation.
In guiding the decision-making process, the model provides several lead questions to the committee members. These include; defining the problem, determining possible courses of action to resolve the problem, determining the repercussions of each action, both in short and long term, assess the ethical principles that support each action; from the answers to these previous questions, deciding which the best decision is, and finally, members should ask themselves whether they would support that decision individually (Morrison, 2009). This model allows the committee members the liberty of exploring various alternatives, comparing them in terms of their ethical, organizational, and financial consequences. According to Anderson and Glesnes-Anderson, the last question permits the committee to double check their decision before they communicate it. In essence, the members should be in a position to personally support the decision.
Following this model, the committee in our case is in a position to make a decision. They should follow the questions from the model from which they will get the source of the problem from the physician and the bullied staff. The possible courses of action would be to dismiss him or to retain him after giving him a warning or a fine. This decision will be reached after weighing the consequences and making an ethically accepted decision that would be justifiable.
Fox, E., Myers, S., & Pearlman, R. A. (2007). Ethics consultation in United States hospitals: a national survey. The American Journal of Bioethics, 7(2), 13-25.
Morrison, E. E. (2009). Ethics in health administration: a practical approach for decision makers. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
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