NAVIGATING THE MURKY INTERSECTION BETWEEN CLINICAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS: A HYBRID CASE TAXONOMY

Authors


Sally Bean, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre & University of Toronto, Joint Centre for Bioethics, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Rm H263, Toronto, ON Canada M4N 3M5. Email: sally.bean@utoronto.ca

ABSTRACT

Ethical challenges that arise within healthcare delivery institutions are currently categorized as either clinical or organizational, based on the type of issue. Despite this common binary issue-based methodology, empirical study and increasing academic dialogue indicate that a clear line cannot easily be drawn between organizational and clinical ethics. Disagreement around end-of-life treatments, for example, often spawn value differences amongst parties at both organizational and clinical levels and requires a resolution to address both the case at hand and large-scale underlying system-level confounders. I refer to issues that contain elements of both clinical and organizational issues as hybrids and propose a new taxonomy to characterize hybrid cases. I contend that salient contextual features of an ethical issue, such as where it is identified, who it impacts and where it is ideally resolved in relation to its scope of impact, should inform procedure. Implementation of a Hybrid taxonomy viewing ethical issues as existing on a continuum furthers that end. The primary goals are to 1) systematize thinking about ethical issues that arise within healthcare delivery institutions and 2) allow the content of the ethical challenge to drive the process, rather than continuing to rely on the traditional binary issue-based choice. Failure to capture the complexity of hybrid situations perpetuates incomplete information and ultimately an inchoate resolution that creates more questions than answers.

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