College Connection Fall 2016 - Page 8

college connection ETHICAL DILEMMA GOOD INTENTIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE BEST COMPASS FOR OUR ACTIONS If your intention is to help someone, does that justify an unethical action? Some would argue that if no harm occurred (to people, animals, or the environment) then bending the rules to help someone can be justified. This seems like a reasonable argument. Let’s look at a few scenarios, which, although altered somewhat for clarity, have been presented to the College. Pit bull or a boxer? A client rescues a pit bull and wants to keep it. The dog is friendly with adults and children, and is getting along well with her other pets. The client is aware of the Dog Owners Liability Act and the ban on pit bulls. In assessing the dog, you find it is a very nice dog which you know will have a good home. You agree to list the dog as a “boxer cross” on your medical records and vaccine certificates in case the dog’s breed is questioned. The client is happy and the dog gets a good home. Providing medication? A friend has been prescribed medication by his family physician and asks to buy the medications at cost from you. You are aware your friend is having financial difficulties and does not have a benefits plan to cover drug costs. You agree to the request as you have the medication in stock. Your friend is thankful and you are happy to have helped ease his financial stress. Falsifying records? A client wants to purchase insurance for his cat. To get the best coverage, he asks you to change an entry in your medical record so there won’t be restrictions on his cat’s policy. You make the change as full insurance coverage would be in your patient’s and client’s best interests. The Ethical Dilemmas In each scenario, everyone is happy with the outcome; no (apparent) harm occurred, and the veterinarians justify their actions even if they contravene legislation and are unethical. However, once you engage in unethical behaviours such as falsifying records and overstepping your dispensing framework, where does it end? It becomes easier to rationalize other unethical and potentially harmful behaviours. If the friend in the scenario above had said the prescription was for a controlled substance would that be different? You could still justify the action as helping a friend who needs access to the drugs. But a controlled substance poses more risk of harm and has abuse potential. Is the friend really being “helped”? What if clients tell their friends about their veterinarian that helps them out by “fixing” their records? Do you want referrals to your clinic to be based on this reputation? What other requests may these clients make in the name of “helping them out”? Code of Ethics The College’s Code of Ethics lists the core values that guide veterinarians in the delivery of ethical care and service. Two of those values are transparency and trustworthiness which are defined, in part, as being truthful and honest. When clients ask for your help in a way that is deemed unethical, remind them your profession has a Code of Ethics, and explain to them why you cannot fulfill their request. Work with them to find another solution. Our behaviours as individuals reflect on our professional reputations and the profession as a whole. Let’s continue to earn the public’s trust by maintaining the high ethical standards the profession holds itself accountable to. College Connection is the official publication of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, informing members on regulatory issues, with the expectation that members will govern themselves accordingly. College Connection is charged with the responsibility of providing comprehensive, accurate and defensible information. College of Veterinarians of Ontario 2106 Gordon Street Guelph, Ontario N1L 1G6 Available online ... Discipline Summaries — The outcomes of discipline hearings are public information and are intended to provide a greater understanding of the veterinary profession’s accountability to the public. Summaries are posted in the Discipline Orders section of the College website (www.cvo.org/ Discipline-Orders). All findings are also noted in the Public Register. A copy of a disciplinary decision is available by contacting the College. Discipline Summaries recently posted are as follows: Dr. Amarjeet Saini Dr. Joy Courey Dr. Aliasghar Torabi Dr. Mahavir Rekhi Get Your Free Decal — The Facility Accreditation Emblem is available for use online on facility websites and social media and also as a window decal. Visit www.cvo.org/ getdecal to order yours today! Let everyone know your facility meets provincial standards and supports safe, quality animal care. Phone: (519) 824-5600 Toll-free: 1-800-424-2856 Fax: (519) 824-6497 Toll-free fax: 1-888-662-9479 inquiries@cvo.org www.cvo.org Strengthening the veterinary profession through quality practice and public accountability. Editor: Jan Robinson Assistant to the Editor: Kim Huson Publication mail agreement number: 40583010 www.cvo.org