Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene: Case Studies 16 and 17 Essay

Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene: Case Studies 16 and 17 Essay

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Case 16
This case presents a very delicate situation that presents many legal and ethical questions. Do you tell your brother his partner has HIV? I would tell my brother, but the how and when, may vary based on circumstance. From a professional ethical standpoint, it would be unethical to disclose the patient’s HIV status without consent. It would violate the patient’s right to confidentiality, as it is the patient’s choice whom information may be shared with (Beemsterboer, 2010, p. 50). It could also be argued that it is a violation of the principle of nonmaleficence. By providing the patient’s HIV status to people unbound by HIPAA, you are putting the patient at risk of discrimination. This could cause mental anguish or psychological issues, therefore, in essence, inflicting harm on the patient. The most valued application of nonmaleficence is, “One ought to not inflict harm” (Beemsterboer, 2010, p. 42). This would outweigh the ethical argument that you are also preventing harm to your brother, another less important application of nonmaleficence (Beemsterboer, 2010, p. 42). There is one professional ethical principle that I would argue was being applied. This being the principle of paternalism, stating that healthcare providers should do what they deem best for the patient according to their ability and judgment (Beemsterboer, 2010, p. 47). If the patient had a sexual encounter with the brother, and did not inform him of her HIV status, she may be arrested for reckless endangerment according to Pennsylvania law. A case where an HIV-positive person did not disclose their status to their sexual partner was brought before the Pennsylvania Superior Court. According to Pennsylvania law, “Disclosure of HIV status is a defense ag...

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...w in Dental Hygiene (pp. 39-53). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. (2012, September). Section 4.1 Reason for Refusal, Revocation, or Suspension of License or Certificate. In The Dental Law Act of May 1, 1993, P.L. 216, No. 76 Cl. 63. Harrisburg, PA, USA: Pennsylvania Department of State.
Hanson, J. R. (n.d.). Fraud or confusion? RDH Magazine, 19(4). Retrieved 3 15, 2014, from
Smith, A. (2013). How NOT to commit dental insurance fraud! Retrieved from Amy Smith Consulting LL.:
Violations of Public Policy. (2007). Retrieved from Wrongful Termination:

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