California Physical Therapy: Ethical DecisionsPage 2 of 9

1. Healthcare Ethics

Reports of ethics violations in government, industry, and the financial world have captured the attention of the public in recent times. The omnipresent nature of today’s news media contributes to the revelation of misdoings in a way never seen before. In every sector of the economy, ethical violations make news. In medicine, the topic of ethics evolved slowly from the 2500-year-old Oath of Hippocrates over many centuries to the biomedical ethics of today (Sugarman, 2000; Edelstein, 1967). The body of knowledge around ethical theory is evolving rapidly now, fed by challenges that the healthcare delivery system places on practitioners as well as significant changes in healthcare that present new challenges for providers (eg, the use of digital healthcare data) (Aicardi, 2016; Means, 2015; Pasztor, 2015; Wells, 2015).

Healthcare has always demanded impeccable behavior from its practitioners, and currently there is increased awareness when ethical breeches occur, as well as renewed expectation of a high level of ethical behavior (Tenery, 2016). Physical therapists often find themselves faced with the need for ethical decision-making. Because it is not possible to behave ethically without a thorough understanding of the standards of practice for one’s own healthcare field, this course spells out the guidelines for making good ethical decisions in physical therapy (Marques, 2012; Quigley, 2015).