• DISTINCTION BETWEEN LAW AND ETHICS• LEGAL TERMS AND DEFINITIONS• ETHICAL PRINCIPLES• AVOIDING LEGAL ACTION• CONFIDENTIALITY• WAYS TO PROTECT CONFIDENTIALITY• ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
• Law: • Ethics: – Rules written by the – A system of moral legislature or a values; a set of principles government agency. of conscientious conduct.
• Abandonment: – This is when a family or agency leaves an individual without care or support.• Assault: – This takes place when an individual intentionally attempts or threatens to touch another individual in a harmful or offensive manner without their consent.• Battery: – This takes place when an individual harmfully or offensively touches another individual without their consent.
• False imprisonment: – This takes place when you intentionally restrict an individual’s freedom to leave a space.• Fraud: – This means that a person intentionally gives false information in order to make money or gain an advantage.• Invasion of privacy: – This is revealing personal or private information without an individual’s consent.
• Liability: – This refers to the degree to which you or your employer will be held financially responsible for damages resulting from your negligence.• Malpractice: – This is a failure to use reasonable judgment when applying your professional knowledge.• Negligence: – This is when a personal injury or property damage is caused by your act or your failure to act when you have a duty to act.
• Honesty: – Do not be afraid to politely say “no” to a task you are not assigned to do. Also, do not be afraid to admit that you do not know an answer to a question or how to do a task. Never steal, take an individual’s possessions, or falsify documents or reports.• Respect: – An individual’s religious or personal beliefs and values may differ from yours. You should respect those differences.
• Reliability: – Arrive for assignments on time. Always finish your shift, even if an individual is being difficult or the workload is difficult. You can address those problems with the supervisor after you have finished your shift.• Responsibility: – You should not take gifts or tips, follow the individual’s service plan unless you consult with your supervisor and take pride in doing your job well.
• Keep personal information confidential. – Do not discuss confidential information with others except your supervisor or other colleagues who are directly involved with the individual’s care. Confidential information may include medical, financial, or family issues.
• Only perform work assigned. – If you perform a task that was not assigned by your supervisor, you become liable for those actions. A plan is developed for each individual that describes exactly what services should be provided. This is called a care plan or support plan. It lists the tasks you should do for this individual.
• Do not do less work than assigned. – When you fail or forget to do all the tasks assigned, you may put your individual at risk. As a result of your failure to act, you might be found negligent. Again, it is important that you understand the care or support plan for the individual. You must do all the tasks assigned to you as described in the plan—not more and not less.
• Avoid doing careless or low-quality work. – Performing tasks carelessly might make you liable for the damages or injuries that result.• Report abuse and make sure your actions are not considered abusive.
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA): – This keeps the identifiable health information about our individuals confidential. It explains how to maintain privacy and punishment for anyone violating individual privacy.
• Information that should be kept confidential: – All information about our individuals is considered private or confidential. This includes all personal information, medical information.
• How to maintain confidentiality in conversations and on the telephone: – Speak quiet, close doors; make sure a person is a need to know. Never leave personal information on an answering machine.
• What to do in the event of a breach of confidentiality: – If there is a breach of confidentiality, inform you supervisor or privacy officer.
• How direct care professionals can practice the “need to know rule”: – The rule is really common sense. You should only have access to confidential information that you need to know.
• Spoken communications: – Watch what you say, where you say it, and to whom. – Speak in a quiet voice when you share information. – Close doors when discussing private information. – Do not talk about health information matters in front of others. – If someone asks you a question involving personal information, make sure that person has a need to know before answering.
• Telephone communications: – Never leave personal health information on an answering machine regarding an individual’s conditions, test results, etc. – If you are leaving a message on an answering machine/voice mail, only leave the name of the person calling and the agency’s telephone number with your contact phone number, and request a call back. – Do not leave messages with anyone other than the individual or a responsible party.
• Medical records: – Make sure medical records are viewed only by those who need to see them. – Store them in an area not easily accessible to non-essential staff and others. – Do not leave medical records lying around unattended or in an area where others can see them. Don’t leave files on car seats; lock them in the trunk. – Return the medical record to its appropriate location when you are finished viewing it.
• Advance directives are documents specifying the type of treatment individuals want or do not want under serious medical conditions. The documents are used when a person is unable to communicate his or her wishes. Generally, two forms are involved with advance directives:
• Living will: – Legal document that outlines the medical care an individual wants or does not want if he or she becomes unable to make decisions. An example would be the use of a feeding tube.• Durable medical power of attorney: – Legal document that designates another person to act as an agent or a surrogate in making medical decisions if the individual becomes unable to do so.
• Pre-Hospital Medical Care Directive: – Also known as the “orange form” or a DNR, is a special advance directive. This form says that if the heart stops beating or breathing stops, the individual does not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) under any circumstances. This special form, which is bright orange in color, notifies the paramedics and emergency medical services people that this choice has been made.
• It is also important to remember that the orange form only covers cardiac and respiratory arrest. If the individual has another type of medical emergency, the caregiver should provide first aid measures, including calling 911 as indicated.
• Display of the Orange Form: – because the paramedics respond quickly to an emergency medical situation, the Pre-Hospital Medical Care Directive must be immediately available for them to see. It should be displayed someplace where the paramedics will be able to see it should the individual have a cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Such places would be the refrigerator or behind the front door or living room door.