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Case studies: Responding to sticky ethical situations

Article

Get your facts straight with ethically clear and ethically ambiguous situations.

Example #1: A nondebatable fact

During a stay at your boarding facility, a dog chews through the leash his owner brought in with him. The leash was hanging on the cage where the dog could easily reach it. "It's an injustice not to buy the client a new leash," Dr. Karl Salzsieder says. You know the leash came into the clinic in one piece. That's not debatable.

61% of you say it's practice policy to always tell the truth, no matter the possible result.

Example #2: Perception clouds truth

A pet dies after surgery. Team members are distraught because the pet died while it was unattended, and they want to tell the client this. The team believes the pet died because it was left alone and had they been there, it might have been OK. Consider this: The practice might have had some fault, but you don't know that for sure. "You can't say the death would have been prevented if the team member watched the pet every second," Dr. Salzsieder says. The bottom line? You're not obligated to fess up to a mistake you're not certain about.

34% say it's policy to tell the truth most of the time. But at times you've been involved in situations where the truth wasn't revealed to the client for specific reasons.

Source: 2006 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Study

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