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Nutrition Informatics Blog



Practicing Ethically

 I just completed an on-line graduate course on Ethics in Informatics.  One of the requirements was to complete a class project (term paper or voice-over PowerPoint) on an issue related to ethics.  Since I'm always trying to pull nutrition into any informatics class forum discussions or projects, I decided to do my project on Ethics in Dietetics Practice. 

Like you, I had heard of the Academy's/CDR's Code of Ethics but knew very little about any specifics of the Code.  Did you know that it includes 19 principles?  Here's one example, Principle #13, under Responsibilities to the Profession:  "The dietetics practitioner presents reliable and substantiated information and interprets controversial information without personal bias, recognizing that legitimate differences of opinion exist."  J Am Diet Assoc, 109:1461-1467.

If someone asked you to describe an ethical issue in informatics, you'd probably think of accessing a patient's electronic health record without authorization, such as has been reported in the news over the past couple of years.  But think about how often we access and then use information found on the web - do we always cite our source?  Ethics in our profession includes not only respecting privacy and adhering to copyright laws, but also being culturally competence, practicing based on evidence, recognizing when conflict of interest exists, and staying competent in practice via life-long learning. 

Fortunately, there are a wealth of resources available to RDs and DTRs via and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  There are regular Ethics in Action articles in the Journal, as well as Ethics Opinions.  Our website includes several videos with case studies related to ethics.  There are forms to file ethics complaints, and the Code describes this process in detail, as well as the appeals process.  Every RD and DTR should make him/herself aware of this information so that we continue to practice with ethics and integrity.

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