The Ethics of Electronic Patient Records

By Eike-Henner W. Kluge | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Ethical Implications for the
Informatics Professional

Introduction

The considerations that were outlined in the preceding chapters have implications for the health information professional in the health care setting. Specifically, they entail an array of duties that arise out of the relationships in which the health information professional stands towards the various stakeholders. Implicated here are duties towards the patients whose records the information professional handles, towards the health care professionals who participate in the treatment of the patients and who rely on the records that are under the care of the health information professional, towards the institutions in which the health information professional works, towards the society in which the professional is embedded, and towards other health care professionals. The nature and origin of these duties will be the subject of the discussion that follows.

However, as is already familiar from previous discussions of the principle of impossibility, one of the logical presuppositions of having a duty is that it be possible for whoever has that duty to engage in the relevant actions under the circumstances that obtain. Consequently, the very existence of the above-mentioned duties also entails the existence of certain corresponding rights: at the most general level, the right to the means necessary for meeting these various obligation. It follows further that if the means necessary for meeting these obligations do not exist, are inaccessible or are otherwise unavailable for legitimate reasons, 1 then the duties in question ceases to be effective. The implications of these considerations will be central to the discussion of the ethical relationship between the health information professional and the various interested parties and stakeholders.

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