Reminders of the basics of Professional-Patient Relationships
Remember that the medical profession is a professional relationship first. Money
is being exchanged, which is part of it, but there are also professional standards in
just about any line of work. Understanding the lifestyle is a big part of becoming a
doctor or nurse. This doesn’t mean money and status; it means rules and image.
Where business is concerned, one poor relationship with a customer hurts far
more than the benefits of one good relationship. So these standards need to be
kept whenever possible.
Still, beyond this professional relationship is a more intimate one. Doctors and
nurses see patients at their most vulnerable and have access to some of their
deepest secrets. This is why notions like veracity and privacy are so important.
They are the ethical backbone that makes medicine work. Consider life without
them and what that would mean for the profession. Following the rules of the
other chapters is important; they provide guidelines and strict boundaries. But the
ideals of confidentiality, privacy, veracity, etc. are equally important, if less strict
Veracity, which we discussed last time is aimed at both A and B. It involves being
honest with insurance, administration, employers, AND patients. There is a big
picture and a little one here. The big picture of veracity is about the profession
itself. The little is about the patient. That doesn’t make the patient less important
than society. In fact, doctors often favor the patient first, for good reason. But
both need to be considered.
Privacy- As stated before, privacy is a new idea in many ways. From Ancient times
until very recently, it wasn’t considered overly important and certainly not a full right
in most nations. Now, though, it’s critically important. Read the first paragraph on pg.
294 to get an idea of its evolution in the U.S.
Consider how FERPA protects you as students, to get an idea of what privacy
means in today’s society.
There is a fine line here. The good of society is often in conflict with privacy. The
obvious examples are diseases like AIDS, which we’ll discuss. But again, think
about FERPA and how it might keep your parents from helping you. There is also
the conflict between veracity and privacy, as we touched on at the end of veracity.
What privacy actually
remains unclear. “Some definitions of ‘privacy’ focus
on an agent’s
over access to himself or herself, but these definitions
confuse privacy, which is a state or condition of limited access, with an agent’s
control over privacy or a right to privacy” (294). You can have privacy without
actually having control. The real key is that others have (or exercise) limited
access to you in some way. I’ll explain what this means.