We all went through this covid event together, we saw that healthcare workers were praised for being the front line, the ones that put their lives on the line for covid patients. They worked through the process with no vaccine available for them and some hospitals did not have the right equipment and supplies to protect the worker. These healthcare workers were required to perform under the worse of conditions. And they did it.
Now the hospitals and employers are mandating that if they do not receive the vaccination, they will lose their job. Does this sound ethical in the treatment of healthcare workers? I am throwing this question on there because ethics plays a big part in healthcare.
If you look at the term Healthcare Ethics it describes it as: Our ethical responsibilities in a given situation depend in part on the nature of the decision and in part on the roles we play. For example, a patient and his or her family play different roles and owe different ethical obligations to each other than a patient and his or her physician. In the U.S., four main principles define the ethical duties that health care professionals owe to patients. They are:
- Autonomy: to honor the patients’ rights to make their own decision
- Beneficence: to help the patient advance his/her own good
- Non-maleficence: to do no harm
- Justice: to be fair and treat like cases alike
If we look at the ethics of healthcare and how it is applied to the patient, why isn't the hospital applying the same respect to the healthcare worker? Patients get the right to make their own healthcare decisions. It is in the Patient Bill of Rights for every hospital. If we apply the same argument to healthcare workers, who are required to obtain a vaccination to keep their work, they are not allowed to make their own healthcare decision to keep the job, have we crossed the ethics line?
Ethics in a broad term is "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity, "medical ethics also enter into the questions". Ethics is about the decision you make to apply moral standards to your decision making. In this case with hospitals, they allow patients to make their own choice on their healthcare but not the employee. If they send the healthcare worker to get a shot that employee becomes a patient and the patient bill of rights kick in, they are protected so that they are able to make their own medical decisions. Not the hospital or employer.
The question remains, is the hospitals decision to fire an employee for making a healthcare decision ethical? Do they have scientific data to prove it will protect the healthcare employee? Has the employer explained the issues with the vaccine? Does the subject of discrimination even apply to these hospitals and letting nurses go? Or, is it all political?
I was talking to a neighbor the other night here in Florida and she didn't even know there was a Patient Bill of Rights. Now in California hospitals I have seen it posted on hospital walls. It is out there big and bold. Everyone should know, even in Florida in their healthcare laws, there is a Patient Bill of Rights that protects patients and allows them to know what they are being given in the form of medication and treatment and allows them to make their own healthcare decisions. I argue that the same rights may apply to healthcare employees.
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.