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Discussions responses

1. Ethical situations can have more than one right answer. In this case, the patient has the right to disclosure but the surgeon has a right to privacy. Which one is more important than the other? How is the priority decided? Whom should be making the decision? This is why it is so important to use ethical frameworks when looking at these situations. 

Refer to this discussion:  

Particularly, rights and ethics can be seen as the flip sides of the same coin (Olejarczyk & Young, 2019).  Behind every patient’s right is an underlying ethical principle from which such right was developed. Healthcare providers are not required to state their HIV status to patients except when there is a substantial risk of harm to the patient. Nonetheless, in the above case study, the physician had an ethical obligation to undergo testing for infection so as to assess the potential for risk before involvement in surgical operations.

In the above case study, the physician tested positive for HIV, posing a potential risk of infecting the patient. It was obviously in the best interest of the patient to withdraw from the surgical operation as well as future engagement in such procedures. Furthermore, I think that the exposed patient should be notified of the exact circumstances of the exposure. This means getting enough information to comprehend the implications of the exposure. Besides, expert counseling should be given to the patient along with the provision of efficient post-exposure prophylaxis, and proper long-term medical follow-up.

Such cases of HIV status and self-reporting raise legal issues related to confidentiality. Legal protection of the privacy and confidentiality of healthcare providers is dependent on whether there are public health concerns that outweigh the interest in preserving confidentiality. A physician can be faced with legal liability for failure to determine their safety and risk of infecting others with bloodborne pathogens, especially in surgical procedures (Davies, 2020). Therefore, even in the case of accidental exposure, the physician faces legal ramifications.  

2. The right to privacy and confidentiality in HIV patients is a very slippery slope and can create an ethical dilemma. HIPPA states that it is pertinent that disclosure of HIV status be disclosed when it is appropriate or required, (Lin & Liang, 2005). However, what defines standards define when it is appropriate and required? This scenario presents various conflicting ethical principles such as the right to confidentiality and privacy, the right to know, protection against discrimination, the duty to protect, and the duty to warn, (Lin & Liang, 2005). Informing the patient of HIV exposure is an ethically sound decision, however, not giving the physician the right to confidentiality and privacy is unethical. Disclosing HIV status can privy the physician to discrimination, unfair treatment, or possibly termination. However, in this situation, I think it is crucial for the patient to be notified of possible exposure to HIV for the patient’s health sake and proper protocol can be done. Healthcare workers are fully disclosed of the medical conditions of the patients they are caring for so they can take the proper precautions. For example, we are notified when a patient is TB positive so proper safety precautions are taken. I believe patients should have the right to know, especially when they are in high-risk situations, such as the scenario listed. I foresee the following legal questions: Did the physician know he was HIV positive? If the physician knew he was HIV positive and failed to report or take proper safety precautions, it may be ruled as maleficence, or negligent.

3. Ethical issues arise from confidentiality, privacy, and the right to know. Confidentiality and privacy are one of the most important ethical standards of care. It ensures that the patient’s medical information is safeguarded and is a tool used to foster trust between patient and provider. The right to know is another ethical issue; patients have the right to know if their caregiver has AIDS and should be able to make a decision on whether they would like to be treated by that provider (Pozgar, 2016, p. 112). Unfortunately, there are times when these ethical standards can be breached, and that is to comply with legal requirements to protect the patient from significant harm. In this case, the physician did the right thing in testing for HIV and withdrawing from participating in further surgical procedures to minimize the risk of exposing other patients. However, the physician is ethically responsible for notifying patients of the possible exposure. Patients should be immediately informed, tested, and provided with counseling; the healthcare organization can do this to avoid physician scrutiny. Disclosure of the physician’s identity should be omitted to preserve physician privacy and confidentiality (Massachusetts Nurses Association, 2023, para. 13). Providing the physician’s name does not make a difference in patient diagnosis. On the contrary, the physician may be at risk of retaliation and harm.

1 paragraph and 1 credible resource for each discussion response 

How to solve

Discussions responses

Nursing Assignment Help

In this assignment, the ethical dilemma of disclosing a physician’s HIV status to a patient will be explored. We will discuss the importance of ethical frameworks in resolving ethical situations and examine the conflicting ethical principles involved in this case. The ethical considerations of patient disclosure, physician privacy and confidentiality, and legal implications will be analyzed. Additionally, potential solutions and the role of healthcare organizations will be discussed.

Answer to content:
The priority between the patient’s right to disclosure and the surgeon’s right to privacy can be determined by evaluating the potential harm to each party. In this case, the patient’s right to disclosure is more important than the surgeon’s right to privacy. The patient has a right to be informed about any potential risks to their health, including exposure to HIV. The surgeon’s right to privacy should be weighed against the risk of harm to the patient. In this scenario, the surgeon has tested positive for HIV, indicating a potential risk of infecting the patient during surgical procedures. Ultimately, the decision regarding disclosure should be made by a medical ethics committee or a group of experts who can carefully consider all ethical principles and the potential consequences for both the patient and the surgeon.

Olejarczyk, J., & Young, N. M. (2019). Ethical principles and practices. In Clinical ethics: A practical approach to ethical decisions in clinical medicine (8th ed., pp. 3-24). Cambridge University Press.

Answer to content:
The standards defining when it is appropriate and required to disclose HIV status can be established by considering various ethical principles. In this case, the conflicting ethical principles include the right to confidentiality and privacy, the right to know, protection against discrimination, the duty to protect, and the duty to warn. Balancing these principles can be challenging, but in situations where there is a potential risk of harm to the patient, disclosing the patient’s possible exposure to HIV is ethically sound. However, it is crucial to protect the physician’s confidentiality and privacy to avoid discrimination or unfair treatment. Healthcare organizations can play a vital role in ensuring proper protocol and precautions are followed while respecting both the patient’s right to know and the physician’s right to privacy.

Lin, F. L., & Liang, B. A. (2005). HIPAA, privacy and security protections for HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections. In HIV, AIDS, and the law: Legal issues for social work practice and policy (pp. 133-158). Routledge.

Answer to content:
Confidentiality, privacy, and the right to know are important ethical standards in healthcare. Protecting patient information and fostering trust between patients and providers are crucial in providing quality care. However, there are situations where these ethical standards may need to be breached to protect patients from significant harm. In this case, the physician demonstrated ethical responsibility by testing for HIV and withdrawing from surgical procedures to minimize the risk of exposing other patients. It is essential to notify patients immediately, provide testing and counseling, and withhold the physician’s identity to preserve privacy and confidentiality. Disclosing the physician’s name does not contribute to patient diagnosis but may put the physician at risk of harm or retaliation.

Pozgar, G. D. (2016). Ethical and legal considerations. In Legal aspects of health care administration (12th ed., pp. 99-144). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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