Health Information I

Case Study:  Ethical Decision Making:  Family and Friends: Should I Tell?


  1. Read the below noted scenario.
  2. Utilize the “Ethical Decision Making Matrix” table provided, answer Steps 1-7.  Be sure that your answers are not “personal feelings” instead provide the “facts” as presented.
  1. Utilizing the perspective gained from the “ethical decision making matrix, answer Questions 1- 4. Submit your completed “Ethical Decision Making Matrix” and Responses to Question 1-4 via the Discussion Forum icon.
  2. Read and Respond to at least 1 other fellow learners posting.

**Remember – This is “objective factual” data and that “personal views/ethics” are not to be included.  Provide support fact / information to your objective view.  

Case Scenario:

Mary is a health information management (HIM) student on a clinical practice rotation in an acute care hospital in her own community. This week she is learning about the release-of-information process. At the breakfast table this morning, Mary’s mother asks her to find out what is wrong with Ruth, their next-door neighbor. Ruth has been admitted to the hospital twice in the last three months, and her mother wants to know why. While processing the requests for release of information that afternoon, Mary comes across one from Ruth’s insurance company. Mary learns that Ruth was hospitalized due to physical abuse by her husband. Mary has been in trouble with her mother recently. She knows that if she tells her mother this information, she will score “big points,” and she is very tempted to do that.

Later that same day, while responding to another request for information, Mary realizes that the medical record she is reviewing belongs to Ron, her best friend’s fiance. Mary learns that Ron has a drug abuse problem and was recently diagnosed with HIV disease. Mary will be the maid of honor at the wedding of Ron and Patricia two months from now, and she knows that Patricia does not know about Ron’s problems. Mary becomes really worried and wonders whether she should tell her best friend what she has learned, since Ron’s conditions could definitely affect Patricia’s health and the quality of her married life.

Ethical decision-making matrix for real-world case:

ETHICAL PROBLEM: Family and Friends: Should I Tell?
1. What is the question?Should Mary tell her mother about Ruth being abused?Should Mary tell Patricia about Ron’s drug problem and HIV+ status? (section is completed for you to “start out” on the right path)
2. What are the facts?KNOWN·     Ruth Is hospitalized because of physical abuse by her husband(One of the “Known” is listed above as a reference – you will need to complete by adding the other “knowns”          TO BE GATHERED·     Would Mary violate confidentiality by telling her mother about Ruth?(One of the “To be Gathered” is listed above as a reference – you will need to complete by adding  other items which may need “to be gathered” 
3. What are the values? Patient: HIM Professional: Healthcare professionals: Administrators: Society: 
4. What are my options?      
5. What should I do?     

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