Physical therapy, like all health-care professions, governs itself through a code of ethics that defines its obligations of professional behaviours. The code of ethics provides professions with a consistent and common moral language and principled guidelines for ethical actions. Yet, and as argued in this paper, professional codes of ethics have limits applied to ethical decision-making in the presence of ethical dilemmas. Part of the limitations of the codes of ethics is that there is no particular hierarchy of principles that govern in all situations. Instead, the exigencies of clinical practice, the particularities of individual patient's illness experiences and the transformative nature of chronic illnesses and disabilities often obscure the ethical concerns and issues embedded in concrete situations. Consistent with models of expert practice, and with contemporary models of patient-centred care, we advocate and describe in this paper a type of interpretative and narrative approach to moral practice and ethical decision-making based on phenomenology. The tools of phenomenology that are well defined in research are applied and examined in a case that illustrates their use in uncovering the values and ethical concerns of a patient. Based on the deconstruction of this case on a phenomenologist approach, we illustrate how such approaches for ethical understanding can help assist clinicians and educators in applying principles within the context and needs of each patient.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation