Dr. Nugget’s Medical Practice
Dr. Nugget’s Medical Practice
The practice manager broke privilege when she took the confidential patient files from the hospital for further study at home. Medical ethics prohibits the publicizing or failure to secure patient medical records in such a manner as to lead to the contents of that document being made public. She was further careless with the patient documents while in her home that led to the leakage of the medical records to the press. The practice manager handled her discovery of Dr. Nugget’s complicity and hypocrisy in the abortion issue poorly and unprofessionally. As the practice manager, the safeguarding of the practice’s reputation and ensuring compliance to legal and ethical requirements of the profession by their employees is her main responsibility as this goes to further the organizations continuity and productivity. I would have approached the doctor with the evidence obtained and ask for clarifications on why he had gone against his principles and why he had shares in the abortion clinic. I would then advice the doctor to change his hard liner stance on abortion and adopt a more pro-choice leaning, which would help the practice save face from any blow back from the revelations. Ethics would also dictate that he discloses his interests in the abortion clinic and reasons for his referrals so the earning are not suspected to be kickbacks from referrals.
The doctor, the practice manager, the boyfriend who leaked the medical documents to the press and the press themselves all bring a variety of ethical issues to this case. The doctor is hypocritical as he publicly condemns elective abortions while secretly benefiting economically from referrals and procedures he makes to the abortion clinic in which he is a secret shareholder. The practice manager violates the confidentiality and privilege of the patients when she takes medical records home as she diminishes their security and leads to the publication of confidential information. The boyfriend who leaked the information also brings a breech of confidentiality when he intentionally leaks his ex-girlfriends confidential medical records most likely out of spite. The press’s expose on the doctor’s hypocrisy and using confidential illegally obtained patient records as evidence inadvertently hurts the reputation and standing of the exposed patient.
There are several legal issues arising from this case arising from the point where the patient documents left the hospital. The practice manager put the hospital at risk of negligence when her actions led to the publication a patient’s confidential and privileged documents. The practice manager and jealous boyfriend also open themselves up to theft charges as to how they came to be in possession of confidential medical records. The press in using illegally obtained confidential records leave themselves open to charges of defamation and malice as the patient would lose her standing in her community and her source of livelihood.
If the practice manager had remained objective and confronted the doctor with the evidence of hypocrisy she had found, this situation could be averted. At the point of the discovery, the only issue was the doctor’s hypocrisy to his community by publicly condemning elective abortion while secretly benefiting from its practice. At this point, the issue could have been easy explained away with the doctor changing his stance on the abortion issue. The need to disclose his shareholding in the abortion clinic and his past operations could also have been foregone. By being a hypocrite, the doctor had not broken any laws or contravened any ethical regulations of his profession and the issue would have been a moral one.
Jackson, Jennifer C. Ethics in Medicine. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2006. Print.
Macdonald, Elisabeth. Difficult Conversations in Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.