Ethical issues in Medical Radiography
It can be observed that the nature of healthcare delivery and the environment under which this is achieved has been dynamic and experiencing numerous changes. These changes have created new challenges and opportunities for players in the healthcare sector. The professionals in the field of medical radiography have also been forced to be responsive to the changes. These new challenges introduce more ethical dilemmas within the profession (Pettigrew, 2000). This paper will seek to highlight the ethical dilemmas that medical radiographers experience in the course of their daily practice and show how the professionals can best deal with the changes.
Like any other medical professionals, the medical radiographers operations are guided by the ethical expression in the Hippocratic Oath that requires them not to cause harm. It has been observed that ethical conflicts occur due to different values that are as a result of different possible choices. The current regime has seen the nature of practice turn into patient-centered medicine where the patients and the medical professionals hold reciprocal rights and obligations towards each party. Radiographers are healthcare providers and thus have an obligation to be truthful regarding a patient’s condition and offer the most applicable treatment option.
One way that medical radiographer acts in unethical manner is having unqualified practitioners carry out a procedure on patient. This action is not carried out in the best interest of the patient. The diagnostic scanning process may at times be a traumatic experience for the patient. This therefore requires that there are no unnecessary blunders made. Mistakes made can be costly as they lead to incomprehensible films or films showing abnormalities that are not present in the reality. This results to a patient being subjected to a treatment for a non-existent condition and the existing condition is not treated. This causes unnecessary loss of resources that is not in the best interests of the patient (Etheredge, 2011, p. 12).
Another ethical issue in the practice of radiography is the application of the most appropriate imaging utilization. This contributed to not only a good ethical practice but also an evidence-based radiology. In this connection, radiographers face an ethical consideration in determining whether to carry out imaging procedures which are expensive and may subject patients to unnecessary radiation, or not to when the patient may not necessarily require such sophisticated procedures. The process of “imaging up” represents a situation where an MRI or CT scan is requested in a situation where plain films or ultrasound may have provided an answer to the underlying clinical issue. The appropriate imaging utilization is considered as an evidence-based radiology which is dependent on scientific facts. This practice requires the continuous adherence to good practice in radiology (Kefeer, 2012).
Another ethical issue in practice arises in ensuring informed consent of the patients. Informed consent includes making patients familiar with their health situation, and telling them of the medical procedure alternatives available, as well as explaining the consequences of each option provided. In providing an informed consent, there will be a discussion of the risks and benefits that may arise from the procedures and their consequences. It also required that estimate costs be discussed. An informed consent needs to be given by a patient who has attained the consenting age. Informed consent provides an opportunity for the patient to make a voluntary decision on the proposed treatment plan. Medical radiographers are at times at cross-roads of who ought to acquire the consent, them or the referring physician? (Etheredge,2011, p.10).
The ethical issues in medical radiography are at times connected to legal issues. One such situation occurs where a radiographer is expected to offer expert testimony. The integration of law and ethics in this sense gives rise to a situation that places the radiographer in an awkward and tough position. When testifying in court, the radiographer may be required to contradict or verify testimony provided by another radiographer. Problems may arise where the radiologists overestimate their expertise. The process of expert testimony integrates education level and experience in the field (Kefeer, 2012).
The Radiographers Registration Board requires the upholding of high standards of ethics. To attain this, the board proposes some duties that radiographers ought to achieve in the course of their practice. Radiologists are supposed to indicate ethical awareness. This requires them to understand the code of professional conduct and ethics and always act in accordance to it. The radiographers are expected to understand and respect the rights, needs, values, culture, and the vulnerability of the patients. The radiographers are expected to avoid any discrimination based on gender, social status, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity. In practice, the radiographers are expected to perform their duties in a professional and ethical manner. Acting in this manner is at the interest of the patient and the general public. It is important that the radiographers uphold the reputation of the field and maintain practice based on integrity and honesty. The nature of practice carried out by the radiographers should be beneficial and not harmful to the patients and other people. Where conflict of interest arises between the patient and there is need to safeguard the children or another vulnerable individual, safeguarding should be given the first priority (Radiographers Registration Board, 2013, p. 17).
Etheredge, H. (2011). Rethinking Responsbility in Radiography. Journal of Radiology, 10-13.
Keefer, R. (2012). Ethical Dilemmas in Radiology ad the Vow to Do No Harm. Retrieved from https://www.acr.org/News-Publications/News/News-Articles/2012/ACR-Bulletin/201203-Do-No-Harm
Pettigrew, A. (2000). EThical Issues in Medical Imaging: Implications for the Curricula. International Journal of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Therapy, 293-298.
Radiographers Registration Board. (2013). Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics.
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