Code of Ethics and Conduct Poor Judgement Discussion
Chiropractors, like medical doctors, are bound by a code of ethics based on certain responsibilities to the profession, the public, and their patients. Chiropractors must observe and uphold certain fundamental principles, professionalism, and standards of excellence. The foundation of chiropractic practice is based on established moral ethics and obligations that promote dignity and integrity (Rasoal et al., 2017). Chiropractors have a duty to the profession to ensure that they do not engage in behaviors that bring disrepute to the practice. Professional impropriety by chiropractors erodes public trust. To this end, this paper examines the code of ethics and conduct that guide chiropractic practice.
Ethical Codes for Healthcare Professionals
The objective of healthcare professionals is to enhance the quality of life, promote the well-being of the public as well as upholding the dignity of patients. In fulfilling these objectives, chiropractors and other healthcare professionals must conduct themselves through acceptable behaviors that do not bring disrepute to the profession nor erode public trust (Robinson, & Doody, 2021). Healthcare professionals are seen as advocates for morals and ethics hence held to higher standards than most people. Below is a discussion of violations committed by the chiropractor in the case study.
Gregory Poor violated his professional conduct by engaging in illegal activities that brought disrepute to the chiropractic practice. To begin with, Poor was found with heroin and other banned substances such as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) with the intention of distribution. Poor pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute GHB, an an illegal drug. Poor was also charged with introducing adulterated drugs into the interstate drug trade. The possession of cocaine and the manufacture of illegal and banned drugs is a violation of Nebraska’s laws on illegal drugs. Apart from breaking Nebraska’s drug laws, Poor’s conduct violated his professional code of conduct because his behavior amounted to professional impropriety.
One of the codes of ethics contained in the American Chiropractic Association Code of Ethics (ACACE) is that:
“Doctors of chiropractic have an obligation to the profession to endeavor to assure that their behavior does not give the appearance of professional impropriety. Any actions that benefit a practitioner to the detriment of the profession must be avoided to not erode the public trust,” (Council on Chiropractic Orthopedics, 2021).
Poor profited from the manufacture and sale of banned drugs such as cocaine and GBH. These actions go against the professional conduct expected from a healthcare professional. Even more serious is Poor’s failure to warn his prospective customers about the serious dangers caused by ingesting GBH especially when combined with alcohol. GBH is a schedule 1 drug that can only be dispensed by licensed healthcare professionals. The manufacture of GBH by Poor is a grievous violation of the code of ethics expected of chiropractors.
Prevailing Ethical Codes and Principles
Another critical principle observed by healthcare professionals is veracity. Veracity refers to the act of being truthful and honest. This principle defines the relationship between healthcare workers/providers and patients/the public (Amer, 2019). Poor also lied to an investigator during the investigation of his activities. The act of conspiring to manufacture and sell GBH and other misbranded drugs depict Poor as a dishonest person. Lying to an investigator is serious and it makes Poor look bad in the face of the public because a person who willingly lies to an investigator can also willingly lie to his customers/public. Healthcare professionals are some of the workers expected to uphold the principle of veracity at all times when dealing with their patients and the outside public.
Poor broke the principle of nonmaleficence by selling cocaine and GBH. The principle of nonmaleficence states that healthcare professionals must not cause harm to others (Ebbs, Carver & Moritz, 2020). This principle outlaw inflicting intentional harm on others and engaging in activities that pose the risk of harm to other people. Even though Poor did not break this principle in a doctor-patient situation, his behavior outside his work setting did. For example, Poor willingly distributed GBH drug to his companions and the public without informing them how dangerous this drug is; this is intentional harm. Besides, Poor consumed and distributed cocaine and also engaged in drunk driving. These are activities that put others in the way of harm.
Impact of Personal Life on a Professional Career
Health care professionals are held to a high standard of ethics by the virtue of their jobs. As such, healthcare professionals are expected to observe and safeguard the rights, interests, and needs of the society. Doing so makes them the moral advocates and role models of ethical behavior and good conduct. As role models, their actions, decisions, and conduct reflect on their personal and professional integrity.
Gregory Poor led a double life where he was both a drug dealer and a professional chiropractor. He made wrong personal choices of selling cocaine and GBH as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. These are serious personal life choices that harm one’s personal life and wellbeing as well as one’s professional career. In Poor’s case, not only did he violate Nebraska’s State laws on drugs, but he also violated his professional code of conduct. Violation of State/National laws by selling banned drugs essentially made Poor a criminal. By being a criminal, Poor also brought disrepute to him personality and his profession. Most importantly, Poor’s behavior eroded the public trust which means the public no longer trusted him as a moral advocate of ethics and conduct expected in health professionals.
Bad decisions in one’s personal life affect their professional working life. Compromising one’s values may create problems for one’s professional career. For example, by involving in the distribution of banned drugs, Poor lost his personal and professional integrity. At this point, the public cannot trust him to continue dispensing his professional duties as a healthcare worker while on the other hand, he is ruining lives by selling to the public dangerous drugs such as cocaine and GBH.
All healthcare workers must adhere to a professional code of conduct as well as observe ethics. Chiropractors are primary healthcare providers which means that they are bound by a code of ethics to conduct themselves in a manner that does not bring disrepute to their profession. In the case study of Poor v. State, Poor violated his professional code of conduct by engaging in criminal activities. Poor manufactured and sold GBH, a deadly schedule 1 drug, without authorization. Secondly, as is required by law, Poor did not inform his victims about how dangerous GBH drug is to a person’s health. Other behaviors by Poor that brought disrepute to his profession are the distribution of cocaine and driving under the influence of alcohol. Healthcare professionals must observe the rule of doing good and not bringing harm to other people, something that Poor failed to uphold.
- Amer, A. B. (2019). The Ethics of Veracity and It Is Importance in the Medical Ethics. Open Journal of Nursing, 9(2), 194-198. DOI:10.4236/ojn.2019.92019
- Council on Chiropractic Orthopedics. (2021). CCODC. Retrieved from http://www.ccodc.org/ethics.html
- Ebbs, P., Carver, H., & Moritz, D. (2020). Principlism in paramedicine: an examination of applied healthcare ethics. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 12(8), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2020.12.8.CPD1
- Rasoal, D., Skovdahl, K., Gifford, M., & Kihlgren, A. (2017, December). Clinical ethics support for healthcare personnel: an integrative literature review. In Hec Forum (Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 313-346). Springer Netherlands.
- Robinson, S., & Doody, O. (2021). Nursing & Healthcare Ethics. Elsevier Health Sciences