Workplace Ethics Activity: Making Informed Ethical Decisions


Instructions: Select 1 Ethical Case Utilizing the 6 Steps

Steps for Making Ethical Decisions

1. Identify the ethical issue or problem.

2. List the facts that have the most bearing on the decision.

3. Identify anyone who might be affected by your decision and how.

4. Explain what each affected person would want you to do about the issue.

5. List three alternative actions and identify the best and worst case scenario for each alternative,

anyone who would be harmed by this choice (and how), any values that would be compromised by

selecting this alternative and any automatic reasons why this alternative should not be selected (legal

issues, rules, etc.).

6. Determine a course of action.



Dr. Smith is a family physician working in a small town with a population of about 5,000 and frequently

refers her patients to a larger urban center. She has developed good working relationships with many of

the specialists.

This week, she received a copy of a consultation letter from one specialist to another that was very critical

of the care she had provided to the patient. Although she was upset by the criticism, she felt that the

physician did not have the full history, so she chose to disregard it.

Later that day, the patient in question came for an appointment. The patient was very angry and reported

that the specialist said that her incompetence had delayed the diagnosis and worsened her prognosis

significantly. Dr. Smith was taken aback and had to spend a significant amount of time with the patient to

discuss the issue. In the end, she felt that they could continue to work together; however, she was very

upset with the specialist’s comments and wondered what to do?

She notes that the Code of Ethics says, Avoid impugning the reputation of colleagues for personal

motives; however, report to the appropriate authority any unprofessional conduct by colleagues. She

comes to you to ask, “What she should do?”

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