Ethical Dilemma with Dental Hygienist – Medical Ethics Example

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"Ethical Dilemma with Dental Hygienist" is a good example of a paper on medical ethics. 1. A dental hygienist observes a colleague in the process of breaking infection control practices by not swiping or disinfecting the operatory unit between clients. The hygienist recognizes this to be a serious problem and understands that this causes increased risks of infection to the client. II. The hygienists may first want to assess the knowledge level of their colleagues and determine if they are aware of the proper infection control procedures. The Dental Hygiene Act of 1991defines the hygienist’ s scope of practice as well as describing acts that are unauthorized or inappropriate (Dental… ). III.

The colleague should be aware and trained in infection control though this does not necessarily mean that they are. More training may be needed if the problem is simply a lack of knowledge. As a dental hygienist, it is important to practice professionalism. The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario describes three different aspects of professionalism. Competence, Honesty, and fairness are principles that should be followed. Competence is not demonstrated by this colleague, competence requires using the appropriate knowledge, skills, and judgment in the performance of your duties (College, p11). If honesty is not practiced in the office then you are misleading the dentist with your silence and preventing the appropriate steps and actions from being taken.

Infection control measures cannot be taken if the supervisor is unaware of the problem and appropriate training or in-services cannot be provided. Accountability is an important part of being a dental hygienist and this includes reporting unethical, unsafe, and incompetent services by either self or colleagues (Canadian). In deciding what action to take I consulted the CDHO Dental Hygiene Standards of Practice and these standards require mandatory reporting and this standard is in place to ensure that the client’ s health is protected at all times.

I could first try to approach the colleague and discuss the matter and bring it to their attention, though ultimately I would need to report the actions to my supervisor who would then decide how best to handle them. Certain acts are covered under the Professional Misconduct Regulations, a document that defines minimum legal requirements that a dental hygienist must practice (College… ).

A specific regulation that is applicable in this case states that “ Contravening… a standard of practice of the profession or failing to maintain the standard of practice. ” This regulation means that if a colleague is not following the proper protocols and procedures then their behavior is an instance of professional misconduct. Once I’ ve decided to report the action I will then follow through with my decision. I am aware that practicing standards other than those defined in the code of ethics means that there is the possibility of legal and professional discipline.

This discipline can include prosecution, termination, suspension or result in the loss of your license. It would be appropriate to report this problem to my direct supervisor and follow the chain of command. In reporting to the problem to my supervisor I may need to complete a written statement to be on the colleague’ s record. VII. Once I’ ve reported the problem it will now be time to evaluate the outcome. To evaluate the outcome I will take note of what action is taken with the colleague and if it is effective.

Paying attention to the colleague’ s behavior in the future will be important so that I am able to determine if the action and or discipline were effective. The colleague should demonstrate an understanding of the problem and avoid repeating the same action. VIII. I will be able to evaluate my actions and decide if they were ethically the proper decisions though according to the standards they are the only actions that would be appropriate for me to take.

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