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Jo’s firm was developing and he had to travel frequently in his work. Besides getting a better pay package, there were other perks. Among these perks was his more than generous entertainment allowance which he spent happily.  Yet when he found out that he had contracted gonorrhea he was no longer happy.  His only consolation was that it was not AIDS.


In spite of his philandering, Jo still loved his wife Jessie.  He did not want to let Jessie know but he wanted to protect her from the disease.  He went to his family physician Dr So for treatment and discussed his concerns.


Jo requested Dr So to keep his case confidential but in the meantime try to give Jessie a test too.  He said that with the change of weather, Jessie had been complaining of sinus trouble and he would try to persuade her to see Dr So.  When Jessie came, Dr So could run a test on her saying that he just wished to play safe and rule out any possibility of malignant cells.  If unfortunately, Jessie was infected by Jo, then Dr So could give her treatment without letting her know the diagnosis.  He could simply say that he was prescribing the antibiotics as a precaution.


Dr So was in a quandary.  Torn between his principles of confidentiality and truthfulness, he did not know what to do.  Worse still, Jo added that he had an expensive television set which was a display item of his firm.  He would put it in Dr So’s waiting room to keep his patients occupied while waiting for their turn.   


Dr So understood Jo’s concern but he wondered if he should assist him.

Case Analysis

Dr So shall always exercise his independent professional judgment and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct when discharging his duties as a physician. He shall respect a competent patient's right to accept or refuse treatment and shall not allow his judgment to be influenced by personal profit.  


Dr So was facing an ethical dilemma that might put his personal values such as honesty and responsibility to challenge. On one hand, he shall respect Jo’s right to confidentiality; on the other hand, he shall seek consent from Jo’s wife before performing any diagnostic procedures and medical treatment. In handling the situation, he should identify the relevant facts and take stock of all stakeholders concerned. The following factors should be taken into consideration when identifying viable alternatives and choosing the best course of action for himself.


  1. Will his decision violate any professional, industry specific, or company code of conduct?
  2. Is his decision against the law?
  3. Does it correspond with his self-values such as honesty and responsibility?
  4. Can he disclose his decision to others openly and honestly without misgivings?


The ETHICS PLUS ethical decision making model might be helpful for him in solving the dilemma.

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