M2 – Beshaw

The experience that came to mind this week involved both my personal life and my professional. At the time, I worked as a biller for a ground ambulance company. In the course of my work, I reviewed documentation provided by paramedics and facilities to code and bill ambulance services. One time, a very good friend of mine met someone and was headed towards a serious relationship with them. When my friend shared the name, I realized I knew who that person was, because they had been transported by ambulance several times to a local psychiatric facility. I found myself in a very difficult situation; I had a moral obligation to be honest with my friend and protect them, but I was also bound by the law, which stated I could not disclose anything about the person’s medical history. In the end, I encouraged my friend to move slowly and try to get to know the other person as much as possible prior to making a commitment, while being careful not to disclose that I knew of the other person. My duty to follow the law and protect the other person’s health information outweighed my obligation to honesty with my friend. Looking back, I would have handled the situation in the same way. I feel this is an example of a prima facie obligation; my obligation to my friend was overriden by my obligation to follow the law.

2 Comments for “M2 – Beshaw”

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What a difficult situation. On one hand, you the moral obligation you must have felt to warn your friend. On the other hand, the individual has a legal right to privacy in regards to his or her medical history. You also had an obligation to your employer to abide by the laws and rules set in place regarding your employment status. I believe that the individual’s right to privacy falls under the category of “negative rights’, according to our text. I believe it also falls under our “human rights.” I agree that you made the right choice to help your friend as much as possible, while still protecting the rights of the individual. As a side note, I hope the situation resolved itself in a safe manner.

Sydney avise


Hi Christina,
This is a excellent example of the prima facie obligation. Sometimes were put in the position when we have two different obligations and they can conflict with each other.The definition in the book of prima facie obligation is ” an obligation that can be overridden by a more important obligation (Shaw 62)”. In this case you had an obligation to tell your friend the truth , but the obligation to follow the law is more important. If it were me in the situation i would have made the same choice. I think that you made the right decision to not tell the truth to your friend but otherwise give advice to take it slow. I use to work in a medical office and disclosing the information about other patients would be considered a HIPPA violation. That was a great choice and a great example of prima facie obligation.