(207) 784-4563 info@lcwlaw.com

ETHICAL STANDARDS SHARED BY LEGAL AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

ETHICAL STANDARDS SHARED BY LEGAL AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS:  OVERLAPPING CODES OF ETHICS Professional Ethics is a term that is not exclusive to attorneys.  Health providers, like legal service providers, are subject to codes of ethics, and are also more particularly influenced by laws and regulations than other professionals.  Both legal and health services providers share similar ethical duties regarding informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, and effective communication. The basis of the lawyer-client or health provider-patient relationship starts with informed consent.  Rule 1(e) of the Maine Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct carefully defines informed consent as a person’s “agreement to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.”  Rule 1.2 is related to Rule 1, as it requires the lawyer to “abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation.”  Similarly, Ethics Opinion 8.08 of the American Medical Association (“AMA”) states:   “The patient’s right of self-decision can be effectively exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an informed choice.  The patient should make his or her own determination about treatment.  The physician has an ethical obligation to help the patient make choices from among the therapeutic alternatives consistent with good medical practice.” The Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the Physician Assistant Profession also deal with informed consent:  “Physician assistants have a duty to protect and foster an individual patient’s free and informed choices.  The doctrine of informed consent means that a PA provides adequate information that is comprehensible to a competent patient or patient surrogate.  At a minimum,...