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.
MANAGING YOUR REPUTATION
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
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?”