Everyday ethics in an acute psychiatric unit

Journal of Medical Ethics 28 (3):173-176 (2002)

Abstract

The paper begins with a brief statement about the centrality of autonomy or self governance as a core ethical value in the interaction between health care worker and patient. Then there are three stories describing everyday interactions in an acute psychiatric unit. These are used to help unravel ethical issues relating to patient autonomy. Each story is analysed for its ethical components by describing the protagonists' different perspectives, and their reactions to the events. Attention is also paid to institutional policy. Suggestions are made for small changes in both staff behaviour and institutional procedures. Such changes could enhance rather than diminish patient autonomy

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