Mora Pluchino, PT, DPT, PRPC (Faculty member, and Sr. TA) is a graduate of Stockton University with a BS in Biology (2007) and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (2009). Mora authored and instructs Ethical Concerns for Pelvic Health Professionals and Ethical Considerations from a Legal Lens.
When I used to hear the word “ethics requirement,” I would wrinkle my nose and find the cheapest, quickest course to fulfill my New Jersey requirement. I would sit through it and count down the hours. It was not out of a lack of respect for the continuing educator or the importance of the material. I just felt, no matter how the material was presented it was just dry and did not feel like it applied to my more niched areas of practice.
As I dove deeper into pelvic floor treatment and the pelvic floor community, I realized there was such a need for us to have these conversations on the topic of ethics. A lot of questions posted on social media forums and groups have an underlying ethical component and practitioners are not necessarily aware. The more I researched, the more I realized these topics are so complex and can be very interesting when applied to the daily life of a pelvic health provider
Let’s talk about how you can know if something has an ethical component or concern. There are a variety of tests and measures to assess ethical situations and we review these in the class Ethical Concerns for the Pelvic Health Professional. If you are wondering if some of the clinical questions you have are actually founded in ethics you may find yourself asking questions like the following.
One of my favorite ways to assess an ethical question is by using the Kidder’s Ethical Decision Making Model. The fourth step of this model includes four checkpoints that can be helpful for quick clinical questions. These give us an idea of ways to recognize right versus wrong in scenarios and how we can correct or act accordingly. The four tests proposed by kidder are “The Legal Test,” “The Stench Test,” “The Front Page Test” and “The Mom Test” (Ferrier, 2021). If an ethical concern does not pass one of these tests, it does not have merit as an ethical course of action. If something doesn’t pass these tests, the right versus wrong aspect is a moral temptation and a person has to decide which option they would like to choose. We all have different moral compasses and backgrounds and so each person’s comfort level with these decisions may be different.
If a scenario arises, we start with “The Legal Test.” This is where we think about whether an action (or inaction) is legal or not. This may require some research or consultation if we do not know the answers. “The Stench Test” tests a person’s inner moral intuition. How does it feel with how you have been raised and when referenced against your moral foundation? “The Front Page Test” encourages a person to theorize how they would feel if the ethical situation they are thinking about were to be on the front page of a newspaper. It is a publicity test, do you want that to be how the world sees you, your clinic, your practice, your skills, etc? “The Mom Test” makes us reference all those who have been moral examples or might pass judgment on decisions we make (Ferrier, 2021).
Knowing these tests, look at the scenarios at the end of this blog. Imagine how you might run through the four Kidder Tests clinically. This can be great practice for clinical decision making. Like any skill, the more we practice, the more confident we are in the skill and the easier it is to do the task.
Ultimately with ethical decision making, there is a lot more “grey area” and “it depends” answers than there are clear cut scenarios. We can be much more comfortable with the decisions we make based on how we have examined the information and considered all options and outcomes. One of the positives of this class, Ethical Concerns for the Pelvic Health Professional - January 29, 2023, is having an audience of peers to talk through real clinical concerns and situations to problem solve and get input on things that may be weighing on a provider.
Scenario 1: Your patient comes in and tells you that their partner yells at them on a regular basis and controls how they can spend their money.
Scenario 2: A patient tells you that their practitioner forced them to have a pelvic examination without explaining the procedure and continued after the patient asked them to stop.
Scenario 3: You have been invited to an affiliate program with a popular medical device company. You have the opportunity to make $15 for every patient care item you can sell in your clinic.
Ferrier, Patricia. Applying Kidder's ethical decision making model - in this article, the author uses a model of. Studocu. (2021). Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.studocu.com/en-us/document/florida-institute-of-technology/introduction-to-behavior-analysis/applying-kidders-ethical-decision-making-model/20045486
Ethical Concerns for Pelvic Health Professionals
Experience Level: Beginner
Contact Hours: 6
Description: The purpose of this class is to explore the ethical challenges Pelvic Health Practitioners may experience including consent, managing trauma and abuse, and preventing misconduct. This includes basic decisions for billing, patient care, safety, and compliance. Pelvic Rehabilitation comes with additional layers of vulnerability and ethical challenges due to the anatomical areas being treated, topics being discussed, and intimacy of sessions