Providing Ethical Patient Care
Patient care involves treating a broad spectrum of individuals described in many ways, such as diverse patient family, demographically diverse, or representative of the culture or cultures living in a specific community. Diversity can be broadly defined to include all aspects of human differences; for example, physical dimensions, including race, ethnicity, and cultural background. Diversity can also be described using other influencing factors, such as socioeconomic status, religion, place of birth, or educational achievement. Additional characteristics that contribute to diversity include age, mobility, disability, gender, gender expression, height, weight, or marital status. All of these factors influence a patient’s understanding and management of oral health.
In many situations, cultural background and experiences have a unique way of influencing oral and general health practices and beliefs.
The principles of autonomy, beneficence, justice, and veracity provide a foundation for managing patient interactions and care, and integrating cultural respect into all clinical care situations.
The principle of beneficence motivates the provider to take steps to benefit the patient’s well being and oral health.
Although a clinician might not consciously want to treat someone in an unfair manner, if the provider does not consider the cultural, religious, or ethnic background of the patient when planning care, or assumes that every patient follows the same health philosophy as the provider, there is a possibility the patient will be treated unfairly.
Ignoring a discolored or bruised portion of the face that may be near an area of the oral cavity in which there is caries or an infection is part of being truthful with the patient.
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