I. Discussions and Conclusions In a general consideration, the guidelines set by the JCB working group are all acceptable and justifiable. Nevertheless, it is less reliable than a clear code of conduct. The suggestions made by the JCB working group on the other hand, contain important points that should be paid attention by the educational institutions, the government bodies and the health sector as a whole. As a further consideration, I would also like to add that in the process of defining health worker’s responsibilities, there should be a separation between moral duty and moral option.
Health care providers should only be held accountable by the health care sector for not performing their moral duty, but when it comes to moral option, there should not be any formal consequences. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the authorities to set the standards of what is constitute as a moral duty of health workers. These standards should contain a balanced consideration between duty and personal rights of health workers. A standards or guidelines should contain applicable measure that can be used as a standard when facing actual occurrences.
Example of a clear guideline is the one set for nurses within a pandemic outbreak situation. Caring for a patient will become the nurses’ moral duty rather than a moral option when the following criteria are met: 1. The patient is at significant risk of harm, loss or damage if the nurse refuses to assist 2. The nurse’s involvement in preventing harm is considered directly relevant 3. There is an acceptable probability that the nurse will succeed in preventing loss, harm or damage to the patient 4.
The benefits of the patients outweigh any harm the nurse might sustain and the care itself would not present more than acceptable risks to the nurse (American Nurse Association, 2006) Unless these terms are met, then the nurse will have no moral duty to assist. Nevertheless, in reality, nurses and other health professionals are often demanded to exceed their specified moral duties. Many of the important work lie within the moral option area. Realizing this separation between moral duty and moral option, we should see the importance of choosing the right people for the job.
It has become an important mission of health professional educators and administrators to recruit new nurses and physicians who display devoted and caring attitude in practice (‘International Council of Nurses’, 2000).
Bibliography American Nurses Association. 2006. Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board. Position Statement: risk and responsibility. 2006. Available at: http://nursingworld. org/readroom/position/ethics/ Accessed March 7, 2007 International Council of Nurses. 2000. The ICN code of ethics for nurses. ICN. ‘Stand on Guard for Thee’. 2005. University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.