Jurisprudence Handbook

Article Index

 Code of Ethics

A dietitian accepts the obligation to protect clients, the public, and the profession by upholding the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics for Professional Dietitians is a statement of the ethical commitments of dietitians to those they serve. It has been developed by dietitians for dietitians. It outlines the numerous roles played by dietitians and the ethical standards by which dietitians are to conduct their practice. It gives guidance for decision making, serves as a means of self-evaluation, and provides a basis for feedback and peer review. This code outlines what professional dietitians must know about their ethical responsibilities, informs other health care professionals and the public about ethical commitments and fulfills the responsibilities of a self-regulating profession.

The Code of Ethics addresses ethical principles, including:
- client-centred practice
- confidentiality and privacy
- duty to report
- consent1
- professional boundaries
- appropriate and secure documentation, and
- conflict of interest2

1Consent – agreement to allow something to happen
Informed consent – the person fully understands what they agree to 
Express consent – consent that is given very clearly and definitively
Implied consent – not expressed definitively, but communicated by word or action.
2Conflict of interest – occurs when, in the mind of a reasonable person, a dietitian has a personal interest that could improperly influence their professional judgement (Steinecke and CDO, 2015).

Resource for information on ethical principles: College of Dietitians of Ontario Jurisprudence Handbook

Ethical principles are also addressed in legislation.  Below is a table that outlines the ethical principles addressed in legislation. 

Ethical Principle Relevant Act or Policy
Duty to Report                                                                                                                                            

The Health Protection Act addresses mandatory reporting of adult abuse, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect of an adult; an adult living in dangerous circumstances and unable to protect him or herself.

The Adult Protection Act (section16) provides a means whereby adults who lack the ability to care and fend adequately for themselves can be protected from abuse and neglect by providing them with access to services which will enhance their ability to care and fend for themselves or which will protect them from abuse or neglect.

The Children and Family Services Act(sections 23, 24 and 25) protects children from harm. It includes mandatory reporting of child abuse, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect of a child.

Protection for Persons in Care Act (section 5): Health care providers are responsible to protect vulnerable clients and report any concerns they may have in relation to the treatment of a client.

Confidentiality and Privacy                                             

Nova Scotia Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) governs the manner in which personal health information may be collected, used, disclosed and retained within the health care system in Nova Scotia. It provides a framework that strikes a balance between the protection of personal health information and the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information within (by) the health care sector to deliver and improve health care services.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is the federal privacy law for private-sector organizations. It sets out the ground rules for how businesses must handle personal information in the course of commercial activities.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) focuses on public bodies being fully accountable to the public while protecting the privacy of individuals. It sets out mandatory requirements relating to personal information held by public bodies and requires that public bodies protect the confidentiality of personal information, and the privacy of the individual who is the subject of that information.


Nova Scotia Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)

Personal Directives Act (section 18): Health care providers are required to ensure they seek and receive informed consent from the appropriate person and consult with the appropriate decision maker when developing care plans.

The Hospitals Act addresses capacity and consent.