Ethical dilemmas have always been there in a hospital environment (Hurdle et al., 2007). Sue and Kendra are facing such a dilemma. They are good friends who have worked together for 15 years. They help one another in executing their duties, some of which raise ethical integrity questions.
It is unethical for Kendra to give her mother the information about a particular doctor’s conduct. Sue knows that, but she is a close friend to Kendra. It will be very hard for Sue to take the necessary step in handling such a situation. The matter at hand also involves Kendra’s mother, which is a very important person to her friend. Kendra also confronts her and asks her what she would have done if she were in her place. Obviously, these factors highlight on external factors that have put Sue in a dilemma (Hurdle et al., 2007).
There are also internal factors that have put Sue in a dilemma: the long time she has been working with Kendra; the favor she had asked of Kendra, which was un-procedural; and the current situation in the hospital where a patient has expired because of complications developed during the surgery. Because of all these factors, it will be hard for Sue to make a decision in this situation (Hurdle et al., 2007).
Kendra is also in a dilemma. She had to inform her mother on what has been going on in the hospital although this was violating the code of conduct. Internally, she knows she has betrayed the trust accorded to her by her friend. However, her friend used her to quickly access the files from the records, and, therefore, she expects Sue to neglect her misconduct.
This case presents two major ethical concerns: friendship and family relations as ethical issues at work place. Kendra uses her position to access the confidential medical records so as to advise her mother to change the surgeon, as she is afraid of losing her mother. On the other hand, Sue uses friendship with Kendra to access the medical records within 20 minutes. These medical records require some procedural approval before being released, taking a period of at least 24 hours.
Yet, Kendra offers an unprofessional advice to her mother as only a professional can analyze the records appropriately. This amounts to unethical conduct as she may have misrepresented the facts (AHIMA, 2008). Besides, she broke the code of ethics meant to ensure procedural delivering of information in a hospital environment, which ensures that the coded information is accurate and is delivered in the right manner (Hurdle at al., 2007). On the other hand, Kendra was curious why the information was required so urgently. According to the department policy for study, she was supposed to follow a certain procedure before giving anyone any records. Thus, she expedited the release of a medical file unethically.
The request that Sue made for a file was un-procedural. This affects the integrity of the two, Sue and Kendra. The lack of honesty results into unethical coding practice. This eventually leads to inaccurate and unreliable data. Sue did not observe the ICD conventions of coding and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)’s standards that control data presentation practice (AHIMA, 2008).
The legal implications that befall the case are inappropriate use and release of confidential medical records. Kendra uses the records she was requested to advise her mother on her condition. She does not quote the exact reason as to why she would not want her mother to be operated by Dr. Brown. The information she claims is self-explanatory and she could not let the relevant personnel deal with that. Although she does not reveal all the information, her actions are illegal. She is subject to expulsion from AHIMA (AHIMA, 2008).
Sue should respond that Kendra is supposed to abide by the code of ethical conduct, which stipulates that all people being handled by the hospital are patients and all of them should be accorded equal treatment. She should remind her about the importance of integrity and tell her how the information she had could have helped her mother’s decision but in the correct manner. She should advise her friend to observe the protocol and emphasize on the importance of doing that. She should also explain her which consequences the action she had undertaken may have. She should also inform Kendra of the possibility of misinterpretation of the information since the information is coded professionally (AHIMA, 2008).
Kendra’s legal violation is the use of hospital’s confidential information in advising her mother. The ethical violation is the un-procedural release of confidential information.
Sue sees an illegality in Kendra’s conduct and confronts it. She is, therefore, aware of ethical procedures. However, she forgets that she had used her friendship with Kendra to access the medical file, which is also unethical. She should ensure that she does not get involved in unethical practices in future (AHIMA, 2008).
Kendra is concerned about her mother’s health, which is normal. However, the method she employs in addressing the matter is illegal and unethical. She might lose her job and it may also affect her friend’s career. When one makes an unethical decision, he/she may end up in a dilemma, and the only way out is doing the correct thing as per the code of conduct.
The major legal dilemma is Kendra’s use of hospital’s confidential information to advise her mother. If someone else learns about Kendra’s actions, it will destroy a friendship and a career. The ethical dilemma now arises from the fact that Sue used her friendship with Kendra to get a medical file inappropriately; this may be exploited if Kendra faces serious problems. I think the best way is to keep it between the two on condition that such misconduct is never repeated. It is vital to ensure that all procedures are observed to avoid such a scenario in future.