Ethical Care


Course Description

E31  Ethical Care, 3 CEhours

Description: It is the responsibility of all staff to ensure that each patient receives the best possible treatment under the circumstances of the setting as well as the available resources. Ethical care deals with the care patients receive in health-care settings.

Objectives: Students will 1. be able to list the characteristics of care ethics, 2. describe integrated ethics, and 3. use care ethics in various relationships.

Course Exam

Course Instructor


Professor Rudolf Klimes, PhD, welcomes you to this online course.



31.1 Care Ethics Overview

From “Care Ethics” article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a peer reviewed academic resource. Read some of the following linked sections of the article about Care Ethics.

Originally conceived as most appropriate to the private and intimate spheres of life, care ethics has branched out as a political theory and social movement aimed at broader understanding of, and public support for, care-giving activities in their breadth and variety.

Table of Contents

  1. History and Major Authors
    1. Carol Gilligan
    2. Nel Noddings
    3. Other Influential authors
      1. Annette Baier
      2. Virginia Held
      3. Eva Feder Kittay
      4. Sara Ruddick
      5. Joan Tronto
  2. Definitions of Care
  3. Criticisms
    1. Care Ethics as a Slave Morality
    2. Care Ethics as Empirically Flawed
    3. Care Ethics as Theoretically Indistinct
    4. Care Ethics as Parochial
    5. Care Ethics as Essentialist
    6. Care Ethics as Ambiguous
  4. Feminine and Feminist Ethics
  5. Relation to Other Theories
  6. Maternalism
  7. International Relations
  8. Political Theory
  9. Caring for Animals
  10. Applied Care Ethics
  11. Care Movements
  12. References and Further Reading




E31.2 Overview of a sample program, the Indian Health Service

The following article is excerpted from Chapter 23 of the Indian Health Manual from the Indian Health Service (The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives) Source

Ethical And Professional Conduct Of Health Care Providers

  1. Purpose.  This chapter establishes the policy, procedures, and responsibilities for Indian Health Service (IHS) personnel, supervisors, and management officials regarding the conduct of health care providers (hereinafter “providers”) in the IHS.  Providers should be knowledgeable of, and are subject to, certain discipline-specific ethical standards of conduct to which they must adhere.
  2. Background.  Providers come from a variety of professional and training backgrounds, and most disciplines have a published code of ethical and professional conduct.  However, because the codes differ among disciplines and some disciplines have no explicit ethical standards, this chapter on ethical and professional conduct for IHS providers has been developed.This chapter serves as an adjunct to and not as a substitute for “The Standards of Ethical Conduct of Employees of the Executive Branch,” the Department of Health and Human Services “Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees,” and the Commissioned Corps “Standards of Conduct.”This chapter takes into account the rural practice setting of many IHS facilities particularly where providers must treat colleagues or family members in situations where no other providers of physical or behavioral health services are available.
  3. Definitions.
    1. Health Care Providers.  Anyone who provides physical or behavioral health treatment to patients, e.g., physicians, nurses, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, counselors, etc.
    2. Patients.  Any customer of an IHS/Tribal/Urban (ITU) facility for whom clinical services have been provided.
    1. .


The following are the basic ethical principles from which the subsequent specific ethical conduct policies are derived.  These basic principles may be used for ethical decisionmaking when a situation is encountered that is not covered specifically by the requirements of this chapter.

  1. The most basic consideration of each IHS staff member in the performance of his/her duties and obligations is that the primary responsibility is to the patient/client and that no harm must occur to the patient/client as a result of the action or inaction of that staff member.
  2. It is the responsibility of all IHS staff to ensure that each patient receives the best possible treatment under the circumstances of the setting as well as the available resources.
  3. The IHS staff shall respect a patient’s wishes regarding treatment and testing alternatives.  Whenever possible, Tribal customs and/or rituals shall be honored.
  4. The IHS providers must follow all rules, regulations, laws, and policies related to performance and conduct.
  5. The provider-patient relationship is a special relationship based upon trust by the patient in the provider.  This relationship must never be used by the provider to exploit a patient or former patient.
  6. It is unethical for any staff member to use alcohol, illicit drugs in violation of the law, or medications in a manner that places them in violation of the law or in any way harms patients.
  1. Relationships Between Providers and Patients.
    1. Respect and maintain appropriate provider-patient boundaries.
    2. At no time is it justifiable to have sexual contact or to develop a sexual relationship with a patient, client, or the parent/guardian of a pediatric patient or client.
    3. Professional relationships shall not be used to further the personal, sexual, political, religious, business, or other financial interests of the provider.
    4. Except in emergency situations, it is usually inappropriate to provide treatment to a person with whom the provider has had a previous sexual or close personal relationship.
    5. It is unethical for staff to encourage patients to use alcohol, illicit drugs in violation of the law, or medications in a manner that in any way harms them or places them in violation of the law.
    6. Social contacts and dual relationships with active patients should be kept to a minimum, insofar as is possible.
    7. Consistent with many State medical boards and prescribing practices, except for minor and self-limited medical conditions or emergencies, providers should not treat their immediate family members or themselves Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member of the provider or the provider is the patient; the provider’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered.
  2. Confidentiality.  Confidentiality about patients and their families shall be maintained under the guidelines of the Privacy Act of 1974; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 Privacy Rule; Tribal, State, and Federal law; and published codes of professional ethics.
    1. Exceptions to the confidentiality of the provider-patient relationship may be made in the following circumstances:
      1. When the patient has granted specific and written authorization for the release of specific information.
      2. When there is danger of harm to the patient or to others.  In this case, there is an ethical duty on the part of the provider to share with legal authorities and other appropriate parties only such information that is necessary to prevent or curtail the threatened harm from taking place.  Providers are required to follow Federal and State mandatory reporting requirements.
      3. When the health care provider staff is required by an appropriate party to perform an evaluation of a patient for a specific purpose and identifies that purpose prior to beginning the evaluation.  Examples would be when the provider is asked to perform an evaluation of a patient or client for legal purposes to determine competency or the evaluation of a child or family for a child custody hearing, etc.  The patient or client should be informed of his/her right to refuse to participate in the evaluation.
    2. For further information regarding exceptions to the confidentiality of provider-patient relationships, see the IHS Circular No. 2003-02, “HIPAA Privacy Rule Implementation Guidelines,” at:This Circular has been superseded by Indian Health Manual Part 2 Chapter 7 HIPAA
    3. Provider staff must not discuss patients in public places or in a manner that might allow information about the patient to be disclosed to someone who does not have the need for and/or right to know that information.
  3. Relationships Between Coworkers/Colleagues.
    1. All health care staff should treat coworkers/colleagues with respect, courtesy, and honesty.
    2. Except for minor and self-limited medical conditions or emergencies, the provision of services to supervisors and direct subordinates is discouraged.
    3. The provision of behavioral health care to colleagues may be undertaken only if there is no reasonable alternative available, and then only if professional role conflicts between the role of provider and colleague are determined to pose no threat to the ability of the provider or the patient/colleague to otherwise provide patient care or maintain their professional working relationship. A note documenting the health services provided to a colleague should be maintained in the colleague’s medical record.
    4. Behavior toward colleagues that is routinely disrespectful, harassing, intimidating, coercing and/or inappropriately unpleasant is unethical and a violation of several policies regarding conduct and the consideration of others.
    5. It is the ethical responsibility of provider staff members to share appropriate information with other staff members about the care of patients within the constraints of the Privacy Act, HIPAA Privacy Rule, and the confidentiality of the provider-patient relationship in the provision of ongoing care.
  4. Relationships Between Providers and the Administration.  All staff must work to ensure quality patient care and effective delivery of services in the health system.  In this context, it is the duty of all staff members to bring programmatic issues that interfere with patient care (and possible solutions) to the attention of the appropriate administrators.  It is the responsibility of the administrators to address these issues in a timely manner.
  5. Treatment and Assessment Modalities.  Clinical staff shall utilize and promote treatment and assessment modalities that have a basis in technical and scientific literature or that are accepted as part of traditional ritual or custom by the Tribal culture of the American Indian or Alaska Native person being served.
    1. Staff shall explain the reason and purpose of the treatment and assessment procedures in terms that are understood by the patient.  When necessary, the use of an interpreter is recommended.
    2. The use of treatment or assessment modalities that degrade patients or primarily use humiliation or harm to the patient’s self esteem as a supposed tool of therapy or assessment are unethical.  It is the responsibility of health care providers to encourage the termination of such treatment or assessment modalities.
    3. Fostering inappropriate dependence by the patient on the provider is unethical and inappropriate.
  6. Non-IHS Clinical Consultants.
    1. It is inappropriate for non-IHS clinical consultants to assume the principal care responsibilities for a patient in an IHS facility if the contacts with that patient occur too infrequently to provide adequate continuity and quality care.
    2. Service consultants shall not, without the permission of the facility to which they consult, divert a patient seen in that facility into their private practice or to another facility with which the service consultants are associated.
  7. Consequences for Inappropriate conduct.
    1. Substantiated allegations of unethical behavior or misconduct may lead to disciplinary action.
    2. When the provider is determined to have engaged in unethical behavior due primarily to an impairment that is remediable, a program of treatment shall be offered to the provider.



31.4-31.8 Additional Reading

Study in-depth the following five sites, follow some links:


TEST 6880 in E31 in ETHICAL CARE for 3 CE hours course accredited by the California Board of Registered Nursing, PCE 16144:  Click here to take the 10-item test online and make payment, and to print your certificate.

Related Courses

Recommendations for you: Visit the CARE ETHICS course at In this course you will be exposed to the ten modules dealing with ethical care, research ethics, palliative ethics, political ethics, codes of ethics, character education, golden rule ethics, conflict of interests, forgiveness and critical thinking.


3 thoughts on “Ethical Care

  • November 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Could someone get TEST 6880 in E31 in Ethical care fixed! Thanks

    • April 16, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Hi Melisa. We see this was submitted some time ago and we apologize for the late response. We appreciate your business. Please do let us know if you have further issues.

  • September 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Please try again. I believe it has been fixed but please let me know if you continue to have difficulties taking this test.


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