Ethical guidelines and the prevention of abuse in healthcare
2012 (English)In: European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, ISSN 0301-2115, E-ISSN 1872-7654, Vol. 165, no 1, 18-28 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In obstetrical and gynaecological healthcare, patients often find themselves in a vulnerable position. Sensitive issues such as sexual and reproductive health are addressed and certain procedures can be experienced as abusive. According to research a lifetime prevalence of abuse in healthcare (AHC) can be assumed for 13–28% of female patients in the Nordic countries. In the present study we analyse the content of ethical documents for healthcare professionals within obstetrics and gynaecology in Sweden, in order to find out to what extent ethicalguidelines consider issues that have shown to be related to the occurrence of AHC.
We searched the literature to find empirical data on AHC. Guidelines for nurses, midwives and physicians were selected. After developing an analytical framework based on the empirical data the content of the ethicalguidelines was analysed.
The various ethicalguidelines for staff working within obstetrics and gynaecology differ distinctively from each other regarding their content of issues that are related to AHC. Issues that were mostly disregarded were: considering the patient's perspective and the patients’ possible experience of violence, considering power imbalances within healthcare, sexual misconduct, how to deal with other professional's ethical misconduct and how professionals relate to each other. We found the ethicalguidelines of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and of the International Confederation of Midwives to be those which contained most of the issues that have empirically shown to be important in regard to AHC.
While staff members from different professions may share responsibility for the same patient, their ethicalguidelines vary considerably. To become a possible resource for prevention of AHC, we suggest that ethicalguidelines in healthcare should be revised following empirical research on ethical conduct. As ethicalguidelines cannot be effective by their existence only, we would like to initiate a discussion on the function and use of ethicalguidelines in general and regarding AHC in particular. Being aware that ethicalguidelines are only a part of ethics in healthcare, however, we envision a broader approach to the aim of preventing AHC, where research is encouraged on how a virtue ethics approach could be applied.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2012. Vol. 165, no 1, 18-28 p.
Abuse in health care; Quality of care; Patient safety; Ethicalguidelines; Virtue ethics
National CategoryMedical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-81881DOI: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2012.07.018ISI: 000311762800003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-81881DiVA: diva2:556217