Ethical dilemmas facing hospital social workers: Implications
Beckerman, Nancy Lisa
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The hospital social worker is confronted with a range of ethical dilemmas stemming from conflicting obligations, cost-containment measures, medical advances and interdisiciplinary team work.;The present study investigated exactly what are the ethical dilemmas facing today's hospital social worker and what are the ways in which social workers attempt to resolve these dilemmas.;An exploratory design was utilized where hospital social workers from three large urban medical centers completed questionnaires which sought to identify the predominant ethical dilemmas and paths of resolution.;The key findings indicate that the major ethical dilemmas facing today's hospital social worker are related to cost-containment as it impacts on discharge planning, and the second area of dilemmas concern the ambiguity of the social work role in medical truth-telling. The majority of social workers rely on themselves for guidance, and attempt to resolve these dilemmas by negotiating first with the physician.;Policy and practice implications are provided with particular focus on those dilemmas in which social workers report feeling unsuccessful in resolution.