Ethics are the universal principles that govern society and the environment we are founded in. Ethics are hence set out to govern our behaviour and organise our lives into a place where we adhere to the same standards. It is rules and regulations set out for various spheres of life, eg the Bill of Rights where it states that every human being has the right to basic health. Morality on the other hand is the basic behaviour code that is specific to individuals. These codes alter the way people behave, the right and wrong in society. (Conradie, 2006)
Morality is not universal as opposed to Ethics. Ethics is esteemed higher than morality to ensure that the personal morals do not take dominion over the universal standards although these two are sometimes in constant conflict. Morality is custom specific and ethics not, hence ethics is the standard by which morality is judged.
Ethics and not Morality in the clinical setup, inclines us to adhere to the ethical systems which are the rules and pillars set out to govern our spheres; the SPCSA, WHO and of cause the Bill of Rights. Ethics is essential in a clinical setup to ensure that all patients are treated with the same standard of care and protected by the same principles. One principle highlighted by WHO in application to physiotherapy practise is that despite age, gender, race, nationality, politics, religion or health status, the patient has the right to physiotherapy service. Understanding this basically emphasises that we as physiotherapists have the condemned responsibility to provide our services despite our morals, bias attitudes or personal problems and bind us to a sense of accountability through validated documents. It is important to understand the difference between the two when making clinical decisions so that whatever we decide in terms of treatment or assessment alone we are able to place our own agendas aside and focus on the care to be given. This very simple ethical domain has so many afflictions at time, where we decide not to treat a patient or our ability to treat this patient is impeded on either from a professional base, where we feel incompetent or from the patient who has socio-economic frames which we morally do not have a in favour.
Conradie. (2006). Morality as a way of life. Cape Town: SUN Press.