Ethics in Medical Laboratory Science

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By Jimoh Sherifat Oyiza

There is no question as to the “sense” of morality concerned upon a profession or work place where each and every activity from what to wear to what to say and how it should be said is ethically guided, this guidance can therefore be seen as the rudimentary basis of professionalism, it is what makes one a professional.

What then are ethics?
Ethics are a set of moral principles that governs a person’s behavior and/or conduct. It is the beacon shining light on right and wrong.

Ethics can be divided into three:
• Meta ethics or analytic ethics which basically tells what morality is;
• Normative ethics which is a practical means of determining a moral course of action by questioning what actions are right and which are wrong; and
•Descriptive ethics which is the application of normative ethics to cases to ascertain what is right and wrong.

Importance of ethics.
• Ethics serves to guide behavior on a personal and professional level. If one is not guided by ethics then moral reasoning will be impossible.
• It also helps to establish credibility both professionally and personally.

Ethics of Medical Laboratory Science.

Medical Laboratory Science is an aspect of medicine that deals with the analysis of body fluids like blood, urine, Cerebrospinal fluid e.t.c and tissues of humans in both normal and abnormal state for the purpose treatment diagnosis, treatment, and research.

Seeing how important this profession is, it has to have a set of moral principles guiding the profession and its professionals.

Ethics of medical laboratory science refer basically to the moral values and judgments that apply to the practice of medical laboratory science. It encompasses the personal and corporate standards of behavior expected of medical laboratory scientists in the delivery of their services.

Characteristics of Medical Laboratory Science Ethics.
These include;

  • Loyalty: Medical laboratory professionals are loyal to the profession and abide by its laws, loyal to their colleagues and other healthcare professionals than to the patients.
  • Autonomy: Medical laboratory professionals should be able to act independently, have the authority to make decisions and freedom to act according to the knowledge gained over time.
  • Non-maleficence: Medical laboratory professionals adhering to ethics will have the interest of patients at heart and treat samples as they treat lives to avoid irreversible harm.
  • Fairness: Medical laboratory professionals should treat patients, other colleagues, and the general public with equity and in a fair manner without being biased.

Components of Medical Laboratory Science Ethics.

These are the wheels that drive Medical laboratory science ethics and they are;

  • Honesty: This involves being sincere and truthful while discharging duties and with other colleagues in a working environment.
  • Integrity: This is basically having strong moral values and doing the right thing at all times even when there is no one looking. Being true to oneself and one’s profession is very important is discharging duties as a professional.
  • Transparency: This implies being open, working in such a way that people can see your actions either by adhering to standard operating procedures while working or providing accurate information about a patient from tests conducted.
  • Accountability: This involves taking responsibility for one’s action, for a professional to be accountable, he/she already knows the consequences for the actions for which responsibility is being taken especially when mistakes arise or when there is a misconduct as this is what makes one an ethical professional.
  • Confidentiality: This is one key part of the ethics ‘engine’ that cannot be overlooked because if it is breached, the trust the patient has for the medical laboratory professional will be lost. Confidentiality basically refers to the duty of the professional to keep information about a patient/client private and revealing such only when given consent. A medical laboratory professional must always respect people’s wishes to keep certain information about them private and consent should not be implied at all, consent given should be explicit i.e the patient/client would have stated in clear terms either in written or spoken form that the information be shared.
  • Respect: In the Medical Laboratory Science profession, respect is not just aimed at the authority, fellow colleagues, and other healthcare professionals but also guides how patients/clients should be treated as well as samples, and patient information. Samples should be handled properly as they are representatives of lives, they should be processed without delay and results should be dispatched as soon as possible fill following laboratory investigations. Patients should be handled with respects and their privacy should be respected.
  • Obedience to the law: The Medical Laboratory Science profession is guided by certain laws which were created and enforced to regulate the behavior of Medical Laboratory professionals. Laws like adhering to general safety precautions, standard operating procedures, and above all keeping to the rules and regulations guiding the profession are to obeyed by the professional.
  • Loyalty: This is also important as a Medical Laboratory professional should be faithful to the profession and the practice. A professional should also be loyal to patients/clients, code of conduct of the profession, fellow colleagues, and other healthcare professionals.

Now, how important is ethics to medical laboratory scientist as a professional?

Ethics are important to medical laboratory scientists because treatment decisions are mostly based on the laboratory test results and as an ethical professional, these ethics serves as code of conducts to be followed in order to maintain good working relationship in the working environment, treat patients with respect and above all give credible test result for treatment.

Conclusively, the importance of ethics to the Medical Laboratory Science profession can not be overstressed as they guides and define how every activity is conducted by professionals. There is no gainsaying therefore the amount of attention it should be paid.

5 Responses

  1. When I was thought ethics in my second year, I didn’t really pay attention and read it just to pass my exams. Over time I’ve learnt that this is an everyday practice and it’s supposed to be a way of life for every medlab scientist.
    Thank you for this awesome read.

  2. Wow, this is so wonderful and more elaborate to what I use to know as ethics and code of conduct this while,
    I appreciate this alot! Thank you #Medlabconvo!

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