Explain two ethical responsibilities for a medical social worker updated 2023

Case Study 1: A 15-year-old girl is diagnosed with cancer. She is tired of chemotherapy and being in the hospital. She tells her parents and her

doctors that she wants to terminate treatment and live her final days at home and spending time with her friends. Review thecae study from a medical social worker’s perspective and then briefly respond to the following:

Provide an explanation of the ethical dilemma.

Explain which ethical standards need to be considered and how those standards may suggest different ethical courses of action.

Explain how you might respond to the ethical dilemma as the girls assigned medical social worker      

Explain two ethical responsibilities for a medical social worker in response to this case. Refer to the Miscode of Ethics Ethics ) and specific references to the associated resources to substantiate your response. Include complete APA citations for all references.


Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Clients

1. Commitment to Clients

Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However, social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may, on limited occasions, supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised. (Examples include when a social worker is required by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.)

2.  Self-Determination

Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.

3 . Informed Consent

(a) Social workers should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate, on valid informed consent. Social workers should use clear and understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the services, risks related to the services, limits to services because of the requirements of a third-party payer, relevant costs, reasonable alternatives, clients’ right to refuse or withdraw consent, and the time frame covered by the consent. Social workers should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions.

(b) In instances when clients are not literate or have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the practice setting, social workers should take steps to ensure clients’ comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible.

(c) In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide informed consent, social workers should protect clients’ interests by seeking permission from an appropriate third party, informing clients consistent with their level of understanding. In such instances social workers should seek to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with clients’ wishes and interests. Social workers should take reasonable steps to enhance such clients’ ability to give informed consent.

(d) In instances when clients are receiving services involuntarily, social workers should provide information about the nature and extent of services and about the extent of clients’ right to refuse service.

(e) Social workers should discuss with clients the social workers’ policies concerning the use of technology in the provision of professional services.


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1 .National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2017). Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from


2 .Reamer, F. G. (2013). Social Work Values and Ethics (4th ed.). Columbia University Press.