Sample Paper on Ethics in Information Technology

Ethics in Information Technology

  1. Stakeholder Ethics

The three stakeholders who are relevant in this case study include the Medical App developers, doctors such as Husain and Food and Drug Administration FDA.

Doctor Husain’s Perspective                                                             

Husain claims that the mobile heath care apps consist of ill effects that worry him. He further adds of the numerous medical apps from Google play and Apple store that track, evaluate and take precaution of personal health. Husain mentions his favorite apps such as Draw MD that permits physicians to determine surgical procedures for sick persons. However, Husain is perturbed about the existence of untested apps that are marketed to replace the legitimate medical tools (Burke 46).

In his perspective, apps such as Instant Blood Pressure examine patients via use of iphone. Aside from being a medical doctor, Husain is also a faculty member and works with emergency medicine department at the Wake school of medicine. From his experience in medicine field, Husain reveals that these apps could be harmful and land a patient in his E.R hence kill him. According to Husain and other doctors, they term such apps to lack validated data contrasted with accepted reference standards hence raise concerns. As a result, this makes Husain to believe that the apps are harmful because they diagnose patients by giving false outcome. To support his concern, Husain reveals that an Instant Blood Pressure app can read the measurements in less than a minute using the iphone and without use of cuffs. Based on his perception, a $ 3.99 app is among the most downloaded 30 apps (Currie 58). This is evident in health and fitness app store site whereby the app has accumulated a high number of reviews from viewers. However, Husain believes that the developers of this app convince the users via the description that a global leader in health innovation approves it.

Additionally, Husain reveals that there is no public research that depicts how such apps operates. To make matters worse, these companies have not conducted the kind of study that is required by Food and Drug Administration FDA. As a result, this makes their apps irrelevant especially when it comes to getting instant blood pressure that is approved by the medical standards. Husain adds that upon contacting the John Hopkins University concerning the app, they confirmed that it is not affiliated with them. Furthermore, they warned the app developer Aura Labs to stop tarnishing their name to the public with false information. In regard to such issues that associate with the app, Husain is troubled that an individual might put off the essential medical treatment. This is due to his perception that such apps could result to development of bad data that may harm the patient.

Husain further discloses that reading the apps’ comment reviews that are posted at the site disturbs his conscience as a medical doctor. In his perspective, it baffles him that individuals actually use the app when in real sense it is not real and helpful in medical department.  According to him, this is dangerous as it could get a patient killed. In his situation while attempting to use the app, Husain reveals how it operated by first downloading the app. After downloading the app, the next step was to place it on the chest and indicate an index finger against the camera. The reading was on in less than a minute but upon testing it severally, the app gave different results. At some point, the app could not indicate the reading but kept giving the doctor a sign to repeat again the procedure. Furthermore, in this condition, the app never warned Husain of its potentially untested and unreliable nature. From this experience, it struck Husain that if he had ignored to scroll down and click more, he would never have known the company is warning. It was now clear to him that the software was not a medical device that was cleared by FDA and was only suitable for recreational use.

Medical App Developers’ Perspective

The medical app developers have defended themselves against the app claims that it fails to meet the medical standards. In their view, they assert that they develop the apps using the patent-pending procedures with assistance from John Hopkins University team that is a global leader in health innovation. The innovators of this app further argue that doctors such as Husain lack the reason to believe that the apps function in real sense.  They attribute to app reviews to defend themselves. They insist that users believe in their app via their feedback that indicates that they are getting accurate blood pressure results. Furthermore, some of the app inventors such as the creator of the Pulse Oximeter claims that he plans to add new warnings to his new app version. This is a good move because the app developer makes it clear that the software is not always consistent. This implies that the app should not be used to gather real data in medicine as it is meant to be used by adult for recreation purposes (Hogan 66).

Food and Drug Administration Perspective

According to Food and Drug Administration FDA, they are working hard as stakeholders to handle the issue of apps. This is by ensuring that it crashes down all questionable healthcare apps and make it mandatory for app developers to offer additional disclosures concerning their software to stay relevant at the market. In addition, the FDA also articulates on apps such as Instant Blood Pressure Pro that they use to determine instant blood pressure. They visited the apps support page but found out that it was inactive and offered no means to access the maker. The page contains a warning but it is not visible once they searched the Google Play or the app store. Analyzing another app that is the Pulse Oximeter Pro, it measures blood oxygen saturations with peripherals.

However, FDA claims that by clicking their website, it diverts one to an Arabic language gaming page. According to FDA, this form of buried information concerning the medical apps is not recommendable due to its risks that cause medical harm. This is because the disclaimers are inadequate and customers are unaware and never read the hidden warnings that could subject them to danger. In regard to the appropriate use of medicine apps, FDA claims that their approach to curb the issue would be to permit the companies to comply voluntarily by medical ethics before they take an enforcement act. Additionally, FDA chooses not to comment on specific app (Jerry 92). To handle this situation, FDA is focusing on accessing a small subset of mobile apps. This is to ensure that they avoid cases where they subject patients to great risks if the apps fail to operate as intended.

Food and Drug Administration might also be forced to take action against mobile apps that do not adhere to the relevant regulatory requirements. FDA is doing investigations to work with app developers to ensure that they indicate adequate warnings on their unproven software. In such situations, FDA calls upon the app developers to be cleared first if they need to sell their apps for purpose of measuring vital signs. Moreover, investigators at FDA are going to ensure that they hinder the spread of recreational medical apps that mislead clients to use them for medical advice. In this aspect, they will convince the app developers to stop selling them until they indicate the warnings clearly. Based on FDA perspective, if this does not work they will go direct to Google play and Apple store to order the removal of these apps.

Areas of Conflict from the Perspectives

Analyzing the perspectives, the major areas of conflict are evident when some of the apps developers give false information that the global leading health innovators support them. For instance, from the case study, an app worth $3.99 that is rated among the top 30 downloaded apps attributes their success to John’s Hopkins University (Kay 138). However, the conflict comes in when the university warns the app developer Aura Labs to stop tarnishing their name. This implies that the software developer did not seek permission first from the university before putting their details on app description, which is wrong.  Another conflict is clear when the app developers hide their warning and confuse consumers. This has led to a commotion between the FDA and the software developers. To avoid this, these developers are supposed to take fast measures before actions are taken against them. In this situation, FDA remains firm with their stand to eradicate these apps from the websites especially those that mislead customers. This is targeted to app creators who by indicating recreational use in the description when in real sense they sell the app for medical purposes.

Relevant Ethical Perspective

The relevant ethical view that applies to app developers stakeholders is relativism. According to this doctrine, perspectives have no validity or absolute truths. They entail only subjective and relative value in relation to differences in consideration and perception. For instance, this ethical view relates to app developers who used a false description in the apps to defend themselves.  Their information was invalid when they advocated their apps for recreational use while they sold them for medical purpose. Conversely, virtue ethics will apply in a doctor’s situation who is also a stakeholder in the case study. Virtue ethics reflect a personality rather than the actions of an individual. It revolves around the moral character and not rules, ethical duties or outcome of the deed. It determines the rights and wrongs of the person by offering guidance on good behaviors that individuals should seek to achieve.

A good example of a stakeholder in the case study who relates with this ethic is Doctor Husain. Virtue ethics are vital in a doctorial profession because they enable him to control his personality while serving patients. For instance, if the moral character of a doctor is upright, he will never prescribe false information concerning drugs or even diagnose the patient using the wrong medical device. This is evident in the case study when Husain fails to trust the medical apps due to their false information that could render a patient killed (Kim 157). This implies that Husain has a good moral character by staying true to his career hence abides by the virtual ethics.

Justice ethics applies to the Food and Drug Administration FDA stakeholders who seek the approval of app developers to adhere to the medical standards before they sell the apps for use. Justice is an ethic that calls for fair treatment of people and equal distribution of health benefits to fulfill the rights of patients. Based on the case study, justice applies when the FDA orders the app innovators to cease marketing software that have no warnings. This proves justice to innocent patients and protects them against the dangers that associate with insecure medical apps.

  1. International Codes of Ethics

The following are codes of conduct and ethics for IT industry, which represent three states. In Australia, there is the Australian Computer Society ACS that represents the association for information and communication technology career in Australia. This code of ethics stands for all practioners of ICT in education, business and government. Their duty is to assist members to realize their career ambitions by developing their skills in ICT. The code incorporates a true sense of belonging by upholding the highest standards of conduct. Another international code of ethics is the British Computer Society BCS in the UK (Parsons 90).  It promotes wider economic and social progress with IT to advance education to benefit professional practioners and entire public. The third code of ethics is the Computer Society of India CSI. It is the first and largest body of computer professionals in India. As a non-profit platform, it allows IT professionals to converge, share ideas and exchange information. Through it, the society encourages professionals to enhance competence and integrity to promote partnership.

Based on the case study, the ACS code from Australia would ensure that the app developers abide by highest standards of conduct. It would also assist professionals such as Doctor Husain to embrace ICT skills to depict excellence in his duty. The British Computer Society code attributes to the case study by ensuring that the entire society is well educated in IT to be able to read the apps properly before using them. The Computer Society of India CSI code would apply to the case situation by uniting medicine professionals to form partnership to enlighten others concerning Information Technology and how it applies in their medical field.

The codes would likely support the perspective of FDA that allows app developers to post the right information on their site that would not harm patients. The clear reasoning for each point is that it is vital for medical practioners to have skills in IT to be in a position to handle apps properly. This explains why the codes support individuals who deliver the right information that does not mislead the public.

The major differences among the three ethical conducts in relation to the case study are that the ACS code from Australia articulates for high standards of conduct among professionals. In contrast to BCS code from the UK, it enforces education in IT. This has a connection with the case study when Husain uses it to tests various apps for patients’ safety. The CSI code from India is different because it unites IT experts and ensures that app developers form partnerships to enlighten each other (Salky 298).

  1. Subjective Code of Ethics   

My personal views on circumstances described in the case study are that ethically, the medical professionals should be very careful in using apps that never cause harm to patients. My point is that majority of app developers are into business rather than focusing on the well being of others. This is why their apps tend to confuse customers when they hide the warnings. I also encourage the FDA to take quick precautions that would send app creators who violate medical regulations to court or be fined heavily. If this issue of apps is taken into account, there will be no cases of patients’ death in future.

Assessing the stakeholders groups that are involved in this case, Doctor Husain is justified in his perspective. The fact that he is not comfortable with the medical apps is understood when he further demonstrates their inaccuracy. For instance, after conducting various tests on the apps, he realizes that they don’t give a warning concerning their breakdown which is risky (Zedd 311). The FDA perspective is justified when they call upon all app developers to validate their devices for safety. However, the perception of app creators is not justified because they use other innovators and link them to their false information. The three ethical issues that will occur due to spread of IT are insecure workplace, lack of professionalism and injustice to access healthcare. These issues could become very difficult to handle in future and render the patient to suffer most when their rights to access proper medical care are violated.


Works Cited

Burke, Don. Effects of Smart Phone Apps. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2013. Print.

Currie, Janet. Medical Apps. Prentice Hall: New Jersey (ISBN: 9780131585638), 2009. Print.

Hogan, Lynn. Digital Life News. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2008. Print.

Jerry, Johnson. Risks Feared from Medical Apps. New York: Wiley, 2007. Print.

Kay, Maurice. Rise of Apps Health Issues. Stamford, Conn.: JAI Press, 2010. Print.

Kim, Byung. Medical Apps Security. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. Print.

Parsons, June.  Super Mobile Medical Apps. Oxford: Capstone Pub., 2012. Print.

Salky, Steven. International Code of Ethics. London: Macmillan, 2005. Print

Zedd, Robert. Virtue Ethics.  Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.