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Colin, Graduate Student
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How do you comparing and contrasting the roles that ethics

Customer Question

I'm taking a class in the ethical leadership in Human Services and I have to do a powerpoint. Could you give me an example how to compare and contrast the roles that ethics and laws play within organizations?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Homework
Expert:  Colin replied 10 years ago.

Ethics and laws both play a significant role in organizations, especially within the health care field.

Ethics are a set of guidelines (some would say rules) about what should be. That is, how does one act in a given situation? When two valued entities come into conflict, which should be prioritized? Ethics typically are derived in abstract terms or as general rules and applied to specific situations. There are several schools of thought as far as ethics go, all have supporters, but all are flawed too.

Laws, in contrast, are the result of political process. Sometimes, laws are voted on by the public and therefore, stem from the will of the people. Others are imposed by authorities. Far too often, in America, laws are created in such a way as to benefit a politically powerful group or business.

Laws and ethics often conflict with each other. For example, in health care, a person may feel that it is ethically right to perscribe drugs that would allow a terminal patient to end his or her life. The laws, in every state except Oregon, say that this is wrong and punishable. Another example is that many people feel it is ethically wrong to provide expensive, elective surgical procedures to wealthy people when many poor have no health care coverage and suffer from preventable disease. Some would say that the law permits and ethically unjustifiable situation.

Here are some direct contrasts between law and ethics:

  • When you violate a law, you are often punished. When you violate an ethical code you seldom are.
  • It is expected that one uphold the laws of the land. To uphold a strong code of personal ethics is often seen as being exceptional, or going "above and beyond" the call of duty.
  • One makes a choice to adopt an ethical system. One is obligated to obey the laws of your country.
  • Laws often change over time. Some people feel that ethical principles do not change, though this point can be debated.
  • Law is ultimately the final arbiter in society. There may be a clash of ethical ideas, but in the end people will typically follow the law. Many times, an ethical debate is ended when the legal system determines an outcome.
For some examples of the clash of laws and ethics inside the medical field, look to things like the access to birth control. Some groups feel that birth control is unethical and attempt to prevent it from being offered at medical care facilities under their control. In most states, the law agrees that this is acceptable, though there are restrictions.

Here is a news article which talks about an instance in which a Catholic hospital was ordered to make birth control available to its employees.

Another clash of laws and ethics is the end-of-live debate. Remember two years ago, when Terri Schiavo was on life support (google her name for lots of articles). Legally, her husband was permitted to remove life support, which would cause her to die. Many people felt this was unethical and so lauched a court battle to prevent it. Once again, the legal system was used to arbitrate an ethical dispute.

I hope this give you some ideas, let me know if I can add anything else.


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Colin's Post: But how can you compare and contract code of ethics and law on power point?
Expert:  Colin replied 10 years ago.
What I would do is start with an intro slide with your name and topic.

Then have a slide with a brief description of law, and how that applies to health care. Then ethics and how they apply to health care.

After that, you could use each of the bullet points from my answer as a slide. Each one is a way in which you see a direct contrast between laws and ethics.

If you want to really get into detail on the health administration aspect of this, you could then include a slide or two with some medical laws, such as the Health Insurance Portabilty and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which regulates medical privacy as well as some aspects of insurance. You could also talk about the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which certifies hospitals as fit for operation.

You could then have a slide with common medical ethics principles, such as "Do No Harm" and "Always work in the best interests of your patient".

Finally you could close with a couple of slides about areas where law and ethics clash in real life, such as the birth control debate and the end of life debate.

As I see it, that's about 10-12 slides right there. If you need a good background or some templates that will help, try looking at There are a lot of how-to's as well as graphics and backgrounds.

Does this help?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Colin's Post: i don't understand why this doesn't show paid. I paid for this in advance.
Expert:  Colin replied 10 years ago.
In order to pay, you need to hit the "Accept" button for this answer. When you pay in advance, you deposit your money into an account. The money is held until you receive an answer that satisfies you. The experts don't get paid until you accept an answer.


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