The case under study involves medical practitioners and public relations officers in their line of duty. Greensboro region have had a program of testing its employees for HIV. It had been long since anyone from the hospital tested positive for HIV until the time of Dr. Mason. During their usual tests, his results tested positive for HIV.
The chief of staff isolated him from the major tasks of operations especially surgery. He was deprived of some rights until his case is determined. The dilemma was on whether or not to report this to the media. The hospital had been used to the reporting procedure which always favoured their institution against the other hospitals. The other hospitals would get a case or several cases but in Greensboro, not even one. This time round, it was them. The case was complicated in the sense that the one affected was in the operating room. He was in charge of major surgeries in the hospital. A well respected doctor.
Ethically, the PR rules in the hospital mandated the PR department to report the cases the way they are. There were no lies about what the results depicted. There various ethical issues in this case. For the purposes of this paper, we will only discuss those affecting the patients and the doctors in the said scenario.
According to the principles of healthcare ethics, the case touches on a few of them. First, the principle of nonmaleficence. This says that one should not harm, he/she should only benefit. The PR of Greensboro did harm on the other hospitals by reporting their failures to the media. This is a great violation of the law of ethics as far as the medical practice is concerned.
The other principle is the principle of justice. This judging and judging fairy on a case. The case of Mason having tested positive for HIV should have been handled otherwise. Dr. Mason would have been given the right to defend himself or rather still, be transferred to another department which is less sensitive. It was right not to include his name on the report but this would even cause a lot of questions on the patients and therefore most of the prospective patients would just avoid the facility for such reasons.
On the other hand, the hospital had a rule that that no one should work at the surgical room with HIV. This was wrong on the side of the hospital. It is putting the lives of many patients in danger especially when the doctor decides to become malicious. Although Dr Mason was the region’s most trained Cardiac surgeon, he should not have been spared when ethical case like happens. It can only be justice when the issue solved amicably with all factors considered.
The Public Relations team should not have reported the issue to the media without prior investigation into the case. This is detrimental to the doctor and the hospital at large. It is injustice of the highest order and breach of an ethical principle. Dunn, the reporter is personally responsible for the professional injury done on Mason.
It has never been easy to defend oneself from the point of a lie. And no defense from a point of truth can be challenged. These are two facts that can be drawn from the context. From the ethical analysis, life is precious. Anything that endangers human life is never a compromise. A case that involves a dilemma between life and property or fame or one’s career, then life should be given the first priority.
It was only fair to report the issue of a staff having tested positive for HIV with the bare truth. It is not then ethically right to place in the dailies the failure of the other hospitals. The same issue that affected them may affect the hospital which seems to be doing well right now.