Reflections on Ethics

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By Andrea Spridgen
Andrea Spridgen

Ethics are a set of moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior. My undergraduate university encouraged students to explore ethics in its mission statement by asking the question, "How ought we to live?" Many of you can relate to the experience of sitting in a classroom and debating the most ethical course of action for various scenarios. Some of you who are pursuing your O&P education may even be performing similar exercises right now. When we are confronted with these challenges in our daily lives, the "right" course of action may be complicated by matters of financial security, competing loyalties, and a host of other grey areas.

Years ago, I faced an ethical dilemma at work. One of my supervisors asked me to do something that, while not illegal, represented what I believed to be an unethical action. I could either do what I had been asked to do or refuse, risking reprimand or dismissal. Happily for me, after explaining the reasons for my refusal to the head of the department, I was able to follow my own sense of what was right without repercussion, but the financial pressure to do otherwise had reared its ugly head while I debated.

The O&P EDGE asked several O&P professionals to comment on these types of real-world challenges in our cover feature, "Where Ethics and Economics Meet: Balancing Patient Needs with Reimbursement Challenges and Other Ethical Dilemmas." I consider it beyond any one of us, and certainly beyond the scope of an article, to prescribe an absolute course of action as the "right" one; however, just as our past classroom discussions helped to shape or reinforce our ethical framework for entering our chosen professions, so too, I hope that this article will encourage reflection on how you think about the various ethical, moral, and business dilemmas that challenge you in your professional life. If you'd like to share your thoughts, send them to me at

In this issue's Perspective article, prosthetics patient Robert D. Haas shares his thoughts on why recreational activities of all kinds are important for those with amputations. As he shares his experience of initially feeling alone after his amputation, he focuses on the importance of peer support to help new amputees know what to expect, and to encourage those new to prosthetic use to get active-an aspect of compassionate patient care that prosthetists should foster.

Although nothing can substitute for peer interaction, the Limb Loss Resource Guide, published this month by our sister company Amplitude Media Group, provides practical information for preparing for, adapting to, and living with limb loss, including how to locate local support groups and peers.

I wish you happy reading and thoughtful reflection.