Ethics Vs Morality – only Religious ?????

Hi everyone,

After going through the posts I think for a while, what are the ethical /moral dilemmas I face as a Physio. Most of my thoughts ended up with dilemmas related to religious stuffs of the therapist / patient.

For example:

  1. What will I do when am rushing for a prayer and my patient came for his/her treatment?
  2. What will I do when my patient requested to adjust my busy schedule for his/her religious stuffs?

Does ethics vs morality issue arise only pertaining to religion? If there were no conflicts with respect to religion, everything is okay?????

I did a quick review on PUBMED to search about the documentation of these issues in Physiotherapy. I came across an excellent article (Guiccone,1980) which describes various situations where ethical dilemmas may arise.

Listing a few:

  1. Establishing priorities for patient treatment when time or resources are limited.
  2. Discontinuing treatment for patients who habitually disregard instructions such as for home programs, treatment regimens, and safety instructions.
  3. Continuing treatment with a terminally ill patient.
  4. Continuing treatment to provide psychological support after physical therapy treatment goals has been reached.
  5. Determining professional responsibilities when a patient’ needs or goals conflict with the family’s needs or goals.
  6. Defining the limits of the physical therapist’s role in the initial education of a patient/family regarding diagnosis or prognosis.
  7. Deciding whether to represent certain necessary patient services in a way that would meet third party- payer limitations.
  8. Withholding or limiting physical therapy services in order to improve work conditions, salaries, staff/ patient ratios, etc.
  9. Reporting questionable practices of another physical therapist/ physician to the appropriate person.
  10.  Deciding what to do when two of my ethical principles or values are in conflict?             
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2 thoughts on “Ethics Vs Morality – only Religious ?????

  1. Michael Rowe

    Hi there. I think that the list of ethical dilemmas that you mention can adequately be addressed by referring back to the ethical guidelines of your professional body. In South Africa we have the South African Society of Physiotherapists (http://www.physiosa.org.za/?q=node/154) and the Health Professions Council (http://www.hpcsa.co.za/conduct_generic_ethical_rules.php). Both of these organisations provide a set of guidelines for practice that would aim to address the very things you mention in your list. These are the challenges that we all face in clinical practice, and so having a set of standards that you can measure yourself against is quite helpful.

    I think the more complex problem arises when these guidelines are different to what you fundamentally belief as a person. For example, if the guidelines say that you must treat all of your patients equally, but you believe that the woman you’re treating in ICU after an illegal abortion is going to go to hell, then your treatment may be compromised. What do your morals tell you to do, versus what the ethical guidelines tell you to do? I think that these are the more challenging dilemmas.

    Reply
    1. physioellen

      I agree that problems can arise when a persons fundamental beliefs and morals differ from guidelines but I believe that the guidelines and support from other members of the team can help assist in moral and ethical decision making.

      Reply

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