Become a Nurse >> Browse Articles >> Specialties >> Home Health/Hospice Care


Ethical Dilemmas in Home Healthcare

Ethical Dilemmas in Home Healthcare

Jennifer LeClaire | Monster Contributing Writer

Whether you’re a social worker, therapist, visiting nurse or another type of home healthcare practitioner, you will undoubtedly face an ethical dilemma at some point in your career.

These quandaries can relate to a patient’s safety, competency or confidentiality, reimbursement or a host of other issues that force home healthcare workers to act. Three home healthcare professionals shed light on issues they must consider when dealing with these ambiguous day-to-day home-care predicaments.

Assessing Competency

Patients who put themselves at risk pose a dilemma for social workers, says Lisa Yagoda, LICSW, ACSW, a senior policy associate for the National Association of Social Workers. These patients may refuse medical treatment or services or reject common-sense advice.

“Patients have a right to refuse treatment or services, but there are risks associated with doing so,” Yagoda says. “If the patient is supposed to use a walker and won’t, if the patient refuses to eat the home-delivered meal, if the patient can’t remember to take medication, then the social worker has to decide what is the appropriate action.”

The dilemma lies in determining whether the patient is competent, Yagoda explains. And the social worker is responsible for assessing whether the patient understands the consequences of his behavior.

“A team approach to solving ethical dilemmas is ideal,” she says. “We work with other disciplines, like nurses or physical therapists, to give the client a different perspective and explain to them why the rug or the pile of books on the floor is dangerous. If the patient still refuses and is at a great enough risk, it should be reported to the primary-care physician.”

Next: Confidentiality Conundrum >>

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    This is interesting, I didn't know that there's such a big emphasis on the ethical dilemmas, working in health care is indeed challenging but these jobs come with strict tasks, there shouldn't be any room for dilemmas but that's of course in an ideal world. I recently found this dental website design resource, it will help me understand more about this type of dilemmas.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    This is a common challenge because of the nature of nursing(humanitarian). It's expected that will go all way "legally" to satisfy or make them(client/patient) comfortable. Therefore it is a challenge to individual's perspective and value system and a matter of how long you can endure or alter your schedule to optimise clien's satisfaction.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    In Home Health there is no 'time clock'. If, in spite of good time management, one has a situation that requires them to stay longer with a pt. we make it happen. As a rule most nurses will not leave their pt in a compromising position whether it be a safety or a comfort issue. To me this is not a dilemma it is common sense and the nursing way.

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.