Thursday, November 28, 2013

(UN)Professional Ethics: Authors' Op-Ed

My previous Op-Ed post proved to be surprisingly refreshing and therefore I will jump into another "tirade" while I am still experiencing the current urge to rant. 

This particular piece is closely related to the previous one...although it hits a more fundamental point of interest:  Ethics.  More specifically, professional ethics.  Although typically defined as a set of moral principles, morality is paradoxically subjective...therefore definition of ethical behaviour is also subjective and open for infinite debate and discussion.  However, when you extrapolate this discussion into the world of health care / health services, the concept begins to condense and become much more explicit.  In my personal opinion, the fundamental issue is not necessarily what you do...rather how you do it.  In other words, even if you are engaging in what could be considered improper professional ethical behaviour, if you are explicit about your objectives and means, people will inevitably make their own decisions...therefore the definition of ethics travels through the concept of transparency.  Regardless of intrinsic good intention or honorable objectives, if an individual or organization engages in the practice of misinformation and subterfuge...the inevitable impression (and ultimate conclusion) is that they operate with an agenda that is not aligned with those they claim to serve.  It would be somewhat naive to assume that my position is the "moral high ground"...or that I exist on a different level...however, in recent months I have been exposed to the extremes of this mindset.  On one hand, I have witnessed this practice of subterfuge first hand...and on the other, I have experienced the benefits of implementing focused efforts in transparency....both of which clearly "bracket" this fundamental idea.

self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability

These are the hallmarks of ethical practice...if these fundamentals are not met, the individual or organization is subject to understandable scrutiny.  This general framework must be integrated into a functioning system that includes rules of conduct, values, moral principles, and ethical practice.  These need to be "built-in" metrics that are subject to internal and external assessment...and should also evolve with the changing dynamic of health care seekers and health care providers.  

I am certain that everyone who reads this will extract their own personal experiences from it...those who know me well may (or may not) be able to speculate where this is coming from...however, regardless of who is speaking or who is being spoken OF, the notion of better professional practice benefits all...and the practice of subterfuge is effectively apoptosis (self-suicide) and only serves to demonstrate a clear and definite need to re-define and re-examine.   

Good ideas don't need to be "sold", intentions should be explicit and transparent, and subterfuge is a poor weapon...especially when it is a weapon of choice.  


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