Ethical Lapses: Staff's Perception of Abuse in Health Care
Journal of psychosomatic obstetrics and gynaecology 2010 Sep; 31(3): 123-9
Objective. Studies have shown high lifetime prevalence of abuse in health care (AHC) in Nordic gynaecological patients. For patients AHC implies feeling disempowered, dehumanised and devalued. The aim of our study was to apprehend health care staff's perceptions of AHC. Study design. Qualitative interviews with staff at a Swedish gynaecological clinic analysed by Constant comparative analysis (N = 21). Results. The two categories - ethical failures against a patient and staff members avoid responsibility - gives two disparate pictures of what AHC is. The interviews showed that these pictures can exist alongside even if they contradict each other. The core category 'ethical lapses' brings staff's contradictory reflections on AHC together in one picture. Notable is that the dualistic notion of AHC did not result in a moral conflict within staff members. Conclusion. Health care staff perceives AHC primarily as ethical lapses. Avoiding responsibility for AHC might lead to a failing recognition of AHC, implying that the problem is not properly dealt with. Our study highlights the need for a more open attitude in health care staff toward AHC. To counteract AHC, staff members need to accept that AHC occurs also in their own units, bringing in moral conflicts in the everyday work.
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