4. Dental Ethics

Dental Ethics

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this chapter, the student will be able to achieve the following objectives:

Electronic Resources

imageAdditional information related to content in Chapter 4 can be found on the companion Evolve Web site.

Key Terms

Autonomy (aw-TON-uh-mee) Self-determination.

Beneficence Of benefit to the patient.

Code of ethics Voluntary standards of behavior established by a profession.

Confidentiality Never revealing any personal information about the patient.

Ethics Moral standards of conduct; rules or principles that govern proper conduct.

HIPAA The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; specifies federal regulations that ensure privacy regarding a patient’s healthcare information.

Justice Fair treatment of the patient.

Laws Minimum standards of behavior established by statutes for a population or profession.

Nonmaleficence Of no harm to the patient.

Veracity Truthfulness; not lying to the patient.

Dental assistants are oral healthcare professionals. As members of a profession, they must practice in accordance with both ethical and legal standards that the public expects from healthcare providers. The connection between law and ethics is very close. Chapter 5 discusses the legal aspects of dental practice.

Ethics refers to moral conduct (right and wrong behavior, “good” and “evil”). Ethics includes values, high standards of conduct, and personal obligations reflected in our interactions with other professionals and patients. Ethics involves very few absolutes and many gray areas. Ethical issues are subject to individual interpretation regarding the right or wrong of particular situations. Dental healthcare professionals should practice ethical behavior as they provide dental care to their patients.

As a general rule, ethical standards are always of a higher order than minimal legal standards established by law. A behavior can be unethical and still be legal, but it cannot be illegal and still be ethical. The study of ethics seeks to answer two basic questions:

Ethics refers to what you should do, not what you must do. The law deals with what you must do (see Chapter 5).

Sources for Ethics

Ethical decisions are present in every part of our lives. Ethics is involved in the way we treat other humans, animals, and the environment. You have been learning personal ethics throughout your life in a variety of ways from the following sources:

Basic Principles of Ethics

Actions and decisions of healthcare providers are guided by ethical principles.

The following six basic principles of ethics have been developed over time. These principles guide healthcare providers by helping to identify, clarify, and justify moral (ethical) choices (Table 4-1).


Basic Ethical Principles

Principle Description
Autonomy Self-determination, right to freedom of choice, self-responsibility
Nonmaleficence To do no harm
Beneficence To do good or provi/>

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Jan 8, 2015 | Posted by in Dental Nursing and Assisting | Comments Off on 4. Dental Ethics
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