43. CASE: What’s My Responsibility?

You’ve been a physician at the local hospital for a number of years and greatly enjoy your practice. You get the chance to see a range of patients and have worked closely with a variety of community members to facilitate the development of support networks for patients after they leave the hospital. Recently, in response to the perceived need to build better relationships between your hospital and the community, a council on “improving relationships for improving health” was created. Many of your colleagues felt that you were a natural fit for this council and nominated you for it as one of the hospital representatives.

After the first few meetings, you realize that there are a couple of issues that need to be sorted out if you are going to continue participating on this council. One is that a council member, who you know is waiting for a liver transplant, had a drink at the dinner meeting last evening. It was just one, and the council member asked you to keep quiet about it as this was his first and only “transgression”.

  • Is this something you should keep confidential?
  • Should you tell your colleague, the transplant coordinator, about this occurrence?

The other issue is that one of the community members on the council has information about staff at the hospital – information that you believe should only be available in the staff’s personnel files – and is sharing this information at the meetings to emphasize her points about the need to take a closer look at the qualifications of those who work at the hospital.

  • What should you do about the sharing of staff information?
  • Does anyone at the hospital need to know about this sharing of information?
  • You are also aware there are internal processes at the hospital already looking at the issue of qualifications. Can you mention this at the council meetings?


Some Values and Ethics Issues to Consider

  • Honesty, trust and truth-telling
  • Overlapping roles and responsibilities
  • Community relationships
  • Compliance with policies and procedures
  • Respect for privacy and confidentiality
  • Organizational culture
  • Professional boundaries

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