The basic definition of what is an ethical dilemma is anything that seems to violate one of these six AOTA Code of Ethics principles, or anything. Study Flashcards On AOTA Code of Ethics: 7 Principles at Quickly memorize the terms, phrases and much more. makes it easy to get the . Preamble. The Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (Code) of the American Occupational Therapy Association. (AOTA) is designed to.

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Third-party reimbursement policies are sometimes arbitrary and cause some distress. Our clients are also enormously complex with multiple needs. There is competition for limited health care resources in any given program. Any facility where OT’s work is generally highly regulated, so there are a million rules, regulations, or laws. There are also specific policies and procedures for each facility.

Rather than thinking, we are all one big melting pot and a big middle class, inequities exist. I do not think anyone would disagree with that. Reasonable people can disagree, and that is ok. This is not something that comes up only when you have a moment. We have to think quickly on our feet. According to your style and within the confines of your comfort level, the problems encountered during the day stay with you or they go away.

I think some of the worries that stay with us are ethical issues. You also may feel that there is just no right answer, but there might be a choice of the least bad answer. Mostly, we feel ethical dilemmas in our heart. I am advocating that as OT practitioners, that we step up. The OT Code of Ethics guides OT practitioners toward ethical courses of action through the adherence to six principles:.

Okay, now each one of these codes of ethics has a basic definition.

And I am certain that each of you is familiar with the basic definitions of each of the code of ethics. But what I wanted to sort of impress on you is that there might be some very surprising requirements in the nuances of each code of ethics and some of this might surprise you. Principle one, beneficence, says OT personnel shall demonstrate a concern for the well-being and safety of the recipients of their services. That is easy to understand. Love is the highest level of affection.

Beneficence also requires us to defend the rights of others. It requires us to not use inappropriate or outdated tests, which is part of the big requirement of using evidence-based practice and intervention and updated therapeutic equipment.

We are really scientifically driven. Nonmaleficence is OT personnel shall intentionally refrain from actions that cause harm. The word “shall” in this, and in all legal documents, actually means must.

Shall in these more formal documents mean must. We shall intentionally refrain from actions that cause harm. One of the nuances of this one is the requirement that OTs care for themselves. We take care of everyone else, and sometimes the person that we take care of the least is ourselves.

In terms of interacting with our clients, we have to balance the benefits of treatment with the potential risks. We have to ensure continuity of care. OTs talk about being client-centered all the time.


Some nuances in there are that we have to fully disclose risks and benefits of treatment. This seems like such a black and white issue to students, but the truth in the matter is, that when we are working with clients in physical rehabilitation settings or with children with physical issues, we hurt them, we make them move, we make them stretch, and we cause them pain. You always want to be honest about that and fully disclose risks and benefits of treatment.

We also need to respect the client’s right to refuse treatment. This is a real slippery slope because OTs are under enormous pressure to be productive and to get a certain amount of minutes of therapy in. We all know that OTs are really skilled at motivating clients and making what we are doing in treatment engaging. One of these things in this area is that we have to address language barriers. If I had a nickel for every time I provided occupational therapy services for someone who spoke a different language than me, I would be quite rich.

This is really unacceptable. We need to work with our local facilities to get adequate translation services there. A language barrier also pertains to patients with aphasia or a decreased understanding of what we are trying to do. We must address language barriers as it is so important to our treatment.

And if we are addressing language barriers, we also must address cultural differences, cultural diversity, and cultural traditions. Etics principle of justice, depending on which document you are looking at, can be listed as two separate principles.

Procedural aoha social justice is that occupational therapy personnel shall promote fairness and objectivity in the provision of occupational therapy services, and respect the applicable law and standards related to their area of practice. This also includes all policies and procedures in our individual facilities, county regulations, and federal regulations related to safety and to third-party reimbursement.

The other piece that has been more recently developed in occupational therapy literature is the concept of social justice. Now, this is a tall order. We must promote fairness and advocate for changes to systems and policies. I have done a lot of this in my work as an OT, and nothing has given me more satisfaction or success. I hope this inspires you a little bit.


The highlights aoota justice are promoting advocacy, speaking up, being knowledgeable, and broadening our perspective of what occupational therapy is. Many students want to be “master clinicians” or the best clinicians they can. This is wonderful, but we are advocating a paradigm shift as driven by the code of ethics. One participant says that this takes personal backbone.

A strong backbone does not come from a place of power or from a place of being a know-it-all, it comes from caring. And if there is anything that really pulls OTs together, it is this.

Identify and fully disclose to all appropriate persons when there is something that needs to be disclosed, and any errors or adverse events that compromise the safety of service recipients.

If you have this stance of being ethica, then you never have to worry that you are keeping something from somebody, especially your clients. The last principle is fidelity. We should treat clients, colleagues, and other professionals with respect, fairness, discretion, and integrity. This means respecting the practices, competencies, roles, and responsibilities of other professionals, and using conflict resolution strategies.


If you have a conflict with someone else on your team, that is what is going to keep you up at night. It is generally not the workload, but rather things like this. It can be exhausting and takes extra time, but it is worth the investment. A team needs to trust and communicate with each other etuics be effective. And many times, OTs are the ones that end up doing fun activities with staff like bowling or going to a baseball game.

In the practice of law, no one is telling you to be nice to each other so I love this concept. We just need to make sure we resolve conflicts. Now let’s look ethcs everyday work. For example, you are going about your business and all of a sudden you feel a little anxious, and you are not even sure why. You go home and the anxiety continues. You think, “It is only Tuesday. I wish it was Friday. Embrace it and try to find the best solutions out of it. In your daily work, you are making observations about systematic constraints, or as I like to call them, perverse incentives.

These are things about your facility that help people be more helpless, like the bathrooms in skilled nursing facilities that are not big enough to fit a wheelchair.

That is a perverse incentive. There also may be some convicting values between you and your client and between you and the xota staff. Again, reasonable people can disagree, however, there can be a lot of questionable behavior. We do not always trust every single coworker. Should you speak up? Often, scenarios, as I described, can accumulate and cause anxiety and burnout.

Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics |

Moral Distress-arises when one knows the morally right thing to do, but cannot act because of organizational constraints. We are the same person, only there are a few more million lines in our face, and we react a little more quickly or are disengaged.

We might be smiling all day, but we are not really as engaged or have a lack a focus. Some examples of scenarios that might cause moral distress ethids short staffing, unfair policies, and huge caseloads. You need the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences. I call it moral because that is how personal it is. In aora opinion, moral courage is the exclamatory modernist form of courage.

Jane has been an OTR for 40 years and an attorney for 15 years. Jane also volunteers at a low income legal clinic. Why Is This Topic Important? In my 40 years of practice, I have found that: Third party reimbursement policies are sometimes arbitrary Our health care system is enormously complex Our clients are enormously complex Competition for limited health care resources exist Facilities where OTs work are generally highly regulated Third-party reimbursement policies are sometimes arbitrary and cause some distress.