Ethical Issues in Healthcare | UT Tyler Online (2023)

Every day, patients, families and healthcare professionals navigate ethical and legal issues and decisions. These difficult dilemmas may concern patient autonomy, medical treatments, practices, hospital management and other matters that arise in the healthcare industry. Ethical issues in healthcare can require an immediate response, such as making decisions for patients when they are not able to do so, or a prolonged, carefully considered decision, such as the debate over the right to abortion or physician-assisted death.

The actions taken when considering ethical issues in healthcare clearly distinguish between what is right and wrong, and often, many of the actions taken today can have lasting effects on healthcare in the future. The policies and guidelines set and upheld by healthcare leaders and managers outline, define and enforce ethical practice and action in their organizations. As such, the study of ethics is woven into a great deal of coursework in advanced healthcare administration programs like the University of Texas at Tyler’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management.

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There are numerous ethical challenges that clinical leaders, health practitioners and patients face in healthcare, many of which are among the most discussed current issues in the field. Some examples of common medical ethical issues include:

1. Patient Privacy and Confidentiality

The protection of private patient information is one of the most important ethical and legal issues in the field of healthcare. Conversations between a physician and a patient are strictly confidential, as is information about an individual’s medical condition. Specific provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, define exactly what information can be released and to whom.

While health information privacy is clearly defined and regulated, ethical considerations like the sharing of personal health information during the COVID-19 pandemic can complicate matters. Personal health information is widely protected, but information regarding elements like vaccination status, exposure and contact tracing can help public health officials save lives, introducing conflicting ethical and legal concerns.

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2. Transmission of Diseases

The COVID-19 pandemic also put a renewed emphasis on the right of healthcare providers to protect themselves from communicable diseases, whether by direct or indirect contact with an infected patient. Ethical and legal questions arise when a patient’s health history is not provided to the medical staff.

The pandemic also forced businesses to walk a fine line of health-related ethical and legal considerations in decision-making, balancing the mitigation of viral spread, employee safety, business continuity and employee rights. When dealing with issues like vaccine mandates, whether in the private sector or public health arena, ethical (and legal) dilemmas abound concerning autonomy, beneficence, maleficence and justice (often considered the four main ethical principles in medical professions).

3. Relationships

Inappropriate relationships between medical practitioners and patients at a healthcare facility are considered strictly unethical for numerous reasons. Romantic or sexual relationships between colleagues can easily become problematic as well. Inappropriate relationships between management and staff are rife with potential for abuse, coercion and sexual harassment.

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Sexual harassment and misconduct can be extremely harmful to all involved, including the facility. A healthcare organization’s code of ethics and disciplinary policies must be explicit about defining, prohibiting and holding perpetrators accountable for sexual harassment and misconduct.

4. End-of-Life Issues

Terminally ill patients may have specific wishes and medical directives concerning the way they want their lives to end. Families may struggle with the decision to end life support for a loved one. Healthcare practitioners and clinical leaders need to be prepared to handle end-of-life issues as well as problems encountered in dealing with elderly patients who may not be able to make rational decisions on their own.

Plus, new laws and regulations often cause ethically complex change for healthcare organizations. Using the example of end-of-life issues, some states have legalized the personal right to pursue physician-assisted death in certain circumstances. Yet, some medical professionals may not feel ethically comfortable upholding this medical directive and right of patients. Balancing legal rights, patient choices and conflicting ethical positions can be a challenging aspect of modern healthcare management, to say the least.

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Ethical Issues in Healthcare in an Online MBA Program

The rapid growth of the medical industry in the United States has created an increasing demand for skilled clinical leaders who understand the complexity and challenges of health systems, practices and ethical issues.

UT Tyler’sonline MBA in Healthcare Managementincludes general management studies along with focused healthcare management concentration courses, all of which help students explore legal and ethical issues in healthcare. An MBA graduate in healthcare management will be ready to improve patient care from a business and ethical perspective at the departmental or organizational level.

Learn more about theUT Tyler online MBA in Healthcare Management program.

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What are the top 5 ethical issues in healthcare? ›

5 Ethical Issues in Healthcare
  • Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders. ...
  • Doctor and Patient Confidentiality. ...
  • Malpractice and Negligence. ...
  • Access to Care. ...
  • Physician-Assisted Suicide.

What are the ethical issues debated through online website? ›

Participant privacy, confidentiality and anonymity. Participant privacy, confidentiality and anonymity were the most commonly reported ethical concerns. These concerns are applicable to internet research across all disciplines, not just those involving families and children.

What are some ethical issues with telehealth? ›

Threats to Patient Privacy

Patients may not know exactly who will be responding to and sharing their personal medical information. That information is available on different devices and computers, increasing the potential for security breaches, which may undermine patients' acceptance of telemedicine.

What is the biggest ethical problem in healthcare? ›

Patient Confidentiality

One of the biggest legal and ethical issues in healthcare is patient confidentiality which is why 15% of survey respondents noted that doctor-patient confidentiality is their top ethical issue in practicing medicine.

What are the 10 ethical issues? ›

The major 10 ethical issues, as perceived by the participants in order of their importance, were: (1) Patients' Rights, (2) Equity of resources, (3) Confidentiality of the patients, (4) Patient Safety, (5) Conflict of Interests, (6) Ethics of privatization, (7) Informed Consent, (8) Dealing with the opposite sex, (9) ...

What are the 7 principles of healthcare ethics? ›

WHAT ARE THE 7 MAIN ETHICAL PRINCIPLES IN NURSING AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT? There are seven primary ethical principles of nursing: accountability, justice, nonmaleficence, autonomy, beneficence, fidelity, and veracity.

What are the three 3 types of ethical issues? ›

The three major types of ethics are deontological, teleological and virtue-based.

What are 3 ethical concerns regarding the Internet of things? ›

Subsequent sections consider particular ethical issues, including: informed consent (Section 2), privacy (Section 3), information security (Section 4), physical safety (Section 5), and trust (Section 6). Section 7 emphasizes that these ethical issues do not exist in isolation, but converge and intersect in myriad ways.

What are two ethical issues related to the Internet? ›

There are a variety of questions that fall under that term and increasingly new questions because the internet has some connection to every aspect of our lives.
  • Privacy. One of the most interesting ethical questions on internet ethics revolves around privacy online. ...
  • Big Data. ...
  • Net Neutrality. ...
  • Access to the Internet.

What are the four 4 ethical issues of cyber ethics? ›

Privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility, these are the four major issues of information ethics for the information age.

What is the current problem of Internet of Things in healthcare? ›

Security and Privacy Concerns

Most IoT devices lack end-to-end secure connection and adherence to data security protocols and standards. Ambiguity around regulation makes data more susceptible to cybercriminals that can hack into systems to steal sensitive health information.

What are the top three challenges of telehealth services? ›

Provider telehealth challenges
  • Reimbursement. One of the biggest challenges with telemedicine has been that Medicaid and Medicare did not reimburse for it at the same level as traditional on-site visits. ...
  • Regulations. ...
  • Scalability.
30 Mar 2021

What are the three biggest issues in healthcare today? ›

5 Current Issues in Health Care and What Administrators Can Do
  • The High Cost of Health Care. The problem: Perhaps the most pressing issue in health care currently is the high cost of care. ...
  • The Concerns of Health Equity. ...
  • The Promise (and Pitfalls) of Technology. ...
  • The Move Toward Value-Based Care. ...
  • The Growing Provider Shortage.
23 Oct 2022

What are the 4 biggest challenges facing the healthcare sector? ›

Major Challenges Facing the Healthcare Industry Today
  • Cybersecurity Threats.
  • Telehealth Implementation.
  • Invoicing and Payments.
  • Price Transparency Mandate.
  • IT Healthcare Investments.
  • Patient Experience.
  • Effective Payment Models.
  • Healthcare Staffing Shortages.
24 May 2022

What are four 4 principles of ethics in health care? ›

The four principles of Beauchamp and Childress - autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice - have been extremely influential in the field of medical ethics, and are fundamental for understanding the current approach to ethical assessment in health care.

What are the seven common ethical issues? ›

7 Common Ethical Concerns in Businesses Today
  • Racial and Gender Equality. ...
  • Overpromising. ...
  • Health and Safety. ...
  • Accounting Practices. ...
  • Privacy. ...
  • Fraud. ...
  • Ethical Accountability.
2 Dec 2020

What are basic ethical issues? ›

Types of Ethical Issues in Business
  • Discrimination. One of the biggest ethical issues affecting the business world in 2020 is discrimination. ...
  • Harassment. ...
  • Unethical Accounting. ...
  • Health and Safety. ...
  • Abuse of Leadership Authority. ...
  • Nepotism and Favoritism. ...
  • Privacy. ...
  • Corporate Espionage.

What are the 12 ethical principles of ethics? ›

Generally, there are about 12 ethical principles: honesty, fairness, leadership, integrity, compassion, respect, responsibility, loyalty, law-abiding, transparency, and environmental concerns.

What is unethical behavior in healthcare? ›

Working while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Becoming romantically involved with patients or family members of a patient. Cherry-picking patients. Breaching patient confidentiality (violating HIPAA regulations) Joking about patients or acting inappropriately while a patient is under anesthesia.

What are the ABC's of healthcare ethics? ›

Overview. Health care ethics (a.k.a “clinical ethics” or "medical ethics") is the application of the core principles of bioethics (autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice) to medical and health care decisions.

What is a code of ethics in healthcare? ›

It contains standards of ethical behavior for healthcare executives in their professional relationships. These relationships include colleagues, patients or others served; members of the healthcare executive's organization and other organizations; the community; and society as a whole.

How do you identify an ethical issue? ›

  1. Recognize there is an issue.
  2. Identify the problem and who is involved.
  3. Consider the relevant facts, laws and principles.
  4. Analyze and determine possible courses of action.
  5. Implement the solution.
  6. Evaluate and follow up.

What are ethics give 3 examples? ›

Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud. Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty.

What are examples of ethical online behavior? ›

Ethical rules for computer users
  • Do not use computers to harm other users.
  • Do not use computers to steal others information.
  • Do not access files without the permission of the owner.
  • Do not copy copyrighted software without the author's permission.
  • Always respect copyright laws and policies.

What is ethics and Internet abuse? ›

Computer ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the usage of computers. One of the common issues of computer ethics is violation of copyright issues. Duplicating copyrighted content without the author's approval, accessing personal information of others are some of the examples that violate ethical principles.

What ethical issues should be considered while collecting new data online? ›

Avoid or minimize anything that will cause physical or emotional harm to participants. Make participants aware of any potential harms prior to their participation. Try to remain neutral and unbiased. Don't let your personal preconceptions or opinions interfere with the data collection process.

Can you name any 4 such unethical cyber practices? ›

Commandment 1: Do not use the computer to harm other people's data. Commandment 2: Do not use a computer to cause interference in other people's work. Commandment 3: Do not spy on another person's personal data. Commandment 4: Do not use technology to steal personal information.

What are ethical issues in medical technology? ›

Those issues include concerns that technology is biased, increases wealth and power inequalities, and erodes the human bonds that create a worthwhile life. The impact of technology is not limited to patients. Technology has also changed the day-to-day experience of working in health care.

What are the three challenges of using social media in healthcare? ›

3 challenges of social media in healthcare

Many providers and others in healthcare are reluctant to get into social media marketing in healthcare for the following three reasons (ranked by level of concern): HIPAA compliance. Desire to stay professional. Fear of negative response.

What is the negative impact of IoT in healthcare? ›

Risk of failure: Failure or bugs in the hardware or even power failure can impact the performance of sensors and connected equipment placing healthcare operations at risk. In addition, skipping a scheduled software update may be even more hazardous than skipping a doctor checkup.

What are 5 challenges still facing the Internet of things? ›

  • Scalability: Billions of internet-enabled devices get connected in a huge network, large volumes of data are needed to be processed. ...
  • Interoperability: Technological standards in most areas are still fragmented. ...
  • Lack of government support: ...
  • Safety Of Patients: ...
  • Security And Personal Privacy: ...
  • Design Based Challenge:
11 Jul 2022

What are the 4 barriers to accessing health services? ›

Five key barriers to healthcare access in the United States
  • Insufficient insurance coverage. A lack of insurance often contributes to a lack of healthcare. ...
  • Healthcare staffing shortages. ...
  • Stigma and bias among the medical community. ...
  • Transportation and work-related barriers. ...
  • Patient language barriers.
27 Jul 2022

What is the most serious issue facing telehealth providers and their patients? ›

Concerns about patient privacy and reimbursement hindered the use of telemedicine too. Physical examination and certain procedures were impossible to perform via telemedicine. Training both healthcare providers and patients was deficient.

What are the ethical issues involving the use of telemedicine and telehealth applications? ›

The main ethical problem areas are: Insufficient clinical information transfer to the opposite side, broken communication between doctor and patient, inaccurate and unclear reporting, security of personal health information maintained in electronic form, the reliability and risk of housing, How much the responsibility ...

What are the 7 ethical principles of health care? ›

WHAT ARE THE 7 MAIN ETHICAL PRINCIPLES IN NURSING AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT? There are seven primary ethical principles of nursing: accountability, justice, nonmaleficence, autonomy, beneficence, fidelity, and veracity.

What are the 5 theories of ethics in healthcare? ›

These are: utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics and principlism. Understanding different ethical theories can have a number of significant benefits, which have the potential to shape and inform the care of patients, challenge bad practice and lead staff to become better informed about areas of moral disagreement.

What are the 5 basic ethical principles? ›

Moral Principles

The five principles, autonomy, justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and fidelity are each absolute truths in and of themselves. By exploring the dilemma in regards to these principles one may come to a better understanding of the conflicting issues. 1.

What are the 12 ethics? ›

Generally, there are about 12 ethical principles: honesty, fairness, leadership, integrity, compassion, respect, responsibility, loyalty, law-abiding, transparency, and environmental concerns.

What are the three main ethical issues? ›

Here are some of the ethical issues in business and real-world cases of how these ethical issues have affected companies.
  • Unethical Accounting. ...
  • Social Media Ethics. ...
  • Harassment and Discrimination. ...
  • Health and Safety. ...
  • Technology/Privacy.

What are today's biggest ethical issues? ›

Ethical Issues in Business
  • Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace. ...
  • Health and Safety in the Workplace. ...
  • Whistleblowing or Social Media Rants. ...
  • Ethics in Accounting Practices. ...
  • Nondisclosure and Corporate Espionage. ...
  • Technology and Privacy Practices.
19 Feb 2020

What are the 3 basic types of ethical issues? ›

There are three main types of ethical issues: Utilitarian, Deontological, and Virtue. Utilitarian ethics focus on the consequences of an action, while deontological ethics focus on the act itself. Virtue ethics focuses on the character of the person acting.

What are the 8 guiding principles of healthcare ethics? ›

The final Washington e-Health Code of Ethics sets forth guiding principles under eight main headings: candor; honesty; quality; informed consent; privacy; professionalism in online health care; responsible partnering; and accountability.

What are the 6 medical ethics? ›

These principles include (1) autonomy, (2) beneficence, (3) nonmaleficence, and (4) justice. In health fields, veracity and fidelity are also spoken of as ethical principles but they are not part of the foundational ethical principles identified by bioethicists.

What are ethical values in healthcare? ›

The language of ethics related to healthcare, also commonly called bioethics, is applied across all practice settings, and four basic principles are commonly accepted. These principles include (1) autonomy, (2) beneficence, (3) nonmaleficence, and (4) justice.

What is ethics in healthcare? ›

Health ethics promotes the consideration of values in the prioritization and justification of actions by health professionals, researchers and policymakers that may impact the health and well-being of patients, families, and communities.

Why is ethics important in healthcare? ›

Ethics within healthcare are important because workers must recognize healthcare dilemmas, make good judgments and decisions based on their values while keeping within the laws that govern them.


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