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Bioethics in Health Occupations

Updated on November 5, 2014

The concept of Professional Ethics is partly comprised of what a professional should or should not do in the work place. It also encompasses a much greater part of the professional’s life. If a professional is to have ethics the person needs to adopt that conduct in all of his dealings. Professional ethics concerns one's conduct of behavior and practice when carrying out professional work. Such work may include consulting, researching, teaching and writing. The institutionalization of Codes of Conduct and Codes of Practice is common with many professional bodies for their members to observe.


Ethics that deal with patients and health care are often termed bioethics, which include such things as end-of-life decisions, cloning, and stem cell research, saving cord blood, genetic testing, surrogate motherhood, and fertility issues. Many ethical issues that health care organizations are now beginning to consider how best to resolve, the following bio-ethical dilemma regarding the patient's racial preferences can be a difficult one. Consider this situation:

A case manager is arranging home care for an elderly European American man who is about to be discharged from the hospital. The services at home will be provided by a home health agency, which has uniformly served the newly discharged hospital patients well with excellent care. After much discussion about the man's medical needs when he gets home, the patient abruptly made a request. He stated that he did not want anyone who was black to come into his home. He stated he doesn't feel comfortable around black people and that he especially does not like the idea of a black person walking around in his house. "I have a right to decide who comes into the privacy of my own home." The case manager now has to decide whether to make arrangements to specify a white worker or to tell the patient that the home health care providers will not comply with his request. Should the racial preferences or prejudices of the patient be taken into consideration? Is it ethical to do so considering the very competent black employees that work for the agency, is it fair to them? Should health care institutions comply with a patient's request for racial preferences in care?


ISACA® sets forth this Code of Professional Ethics to guide the professional and personal conduct of members of the association and/or its certification holders.

Members and ISACA certification holders shall:

  • Support the implementation of, and encourage compliance with, appropriate standards, procedures and controls for information systems.
  • Perform their duties with objectivity, due diligence and professional care, in accordance with professional standards and best practices.
  • Serve in the interest of stakeholders in a lawful and honest manner, while maintaining high standards of conduct and character, and not engage in acts discreditable to the profession.
  • Maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information obtained in the course of their duties unless disclosure is required by legal authority. Such information shall not be used for personal benefit or released to inappropriate parties.
  • Maintain competency in their respective fields and agree to undertake only those activities, which they can reasonably expect to complete with professional competence.
  • Inform appropriate parties of the results of work performed; revealing all significant facts known to them.
  • Support the professional education of stakeholders in enhancing their understanding of information systems security and control.
  • Failure to comply with this Code of Professional Ethics can result in an investigation into a member's, and/or certification holder's conduct and, ultimately, in disciplinary measures.

Based on the Code of Professional Ethics it is noted that a professional standard is set for all members, worker to comply with. The professional knows before he steps into the arena what is expected of him/her, this makes them reprehensible.

Note the following example of a nurse who faced an ethical dilemma regarding circumcision:

A women, six months pregnant with her son, during a routine visit, the nurse asked her if she wanted her son to be circumcised. The women responded in the affirmative. The nurse explained that she had assisted the Doctor with this procedure, and the Doctor feels that it is not necessary to give the babies anaesthesia during this procedure, because he felt that the procedure did not “hurt the babies that much." The women ask the nurse from her observation, did see as a professional; feel that the circumcision was painful for the babies. “Yes she replied, I have assisted many of these procedures and the babies scream at the top of their voices.” The nurse proceed to mention, "even if you sign for your son to have anaesthesia the Doctor will not administer it because, he feels it is not necessary. Therefore, if you want your son to have anaesthesia I suggest that you or someone else be present doing the procedure to make sure your baby receives anaesthesia.”

In this case the Professional choose to inform the appropriate parties, revealing all significant facts known to them. Acceptance of the Code of Professional Ethics stated above makes the Professional reprehensible for his/her actions.

Ethical issues come with the territory, as a Professional you should be well informed on the Code of Professional Ethics and determine in advance what your position will be when ethical issues develop.


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