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Ethical dilemma and resolution: a case scenario

Joseph K Wells

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2007.010


This article illustrates an ethical dilemma that I faced while treating an 86-year-old woman at her home. The ethical dilemma was caused due to several factors such as the expectations of the client (client/ consumer rights), organisational expectations (employer, governmental and payer-source regulations) and my own personal values (one’s moral philosophies, perceived social responsibilities, sense of professional duty) and how they all interact with each other. The case is a classic example of a seemingly simple yet frequent dilemma encountered by occupational and physical therapists in the United States serving clients who are covered by Medicare (the government’s health insurance) for home health. The article is aimed at highlighting the various ethical principles involved in clinical decision-making, and it suggests methods for resolution of ethical dilemmas. Although the article is based against the backdrop of the US health care system, students and health care practitioners globally can relate to it.

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