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Healthcare, Medicine and Ethics – The Fundamentals

Healthcare professionals always aim to do the right thing for their patients. But the reality of medicine is complex. And situations arise where those with good intentions may not agree on the right course of action. Ethical dilemmas related to patient care involving medical, psycho-social, ethical, and spiritual challenges arise often. The question facing many healthcare professionals is how will you choose to balance the basic ethical principles, so your patients receive the best care in any situation?

There are four essential principles of medical ethics. Each addresses a key issue that arises in the interaction between healthcare professionals and patients. The principles address the issue of fairness, honesty, and respect for individual people.

  • Autonomy Every individual has the right to reject treatment, medication and surgeries according to their own free and individual choice.
  • Beneficence All healthcare providers must seek to improve and optimise their patient’s health and to attempt to achieve this in every patient case they deal with. Each patient is different regardless of the case, this therefore asks for an individual case approach when dealing with patients, as what is good for one patient may not be good for another.
  • Non maleficence “First, do no harm” is the bedrock of clinical morals. In each circumstance, healthcare providers ought to abstain from harming their patients. You should also consider know about the doctrine of double effect, where a treatment expected for good unexpectedly causes harm. This doctrine helps the medical professionals to settle on troublesome choices about whether activities with double effects should be embraced.
  • Justice This principle demands fairness and equality. This means that healthcare professionals should be fair when allocating medicine, treatments and be able to justify every action in all situations.

Reviewing Ethics and Common Controversies in Medicine

Topics that clash with the core principles of medical ethics such as autonomy can be seen in cases for and against abortion, conflict of interest in asymmetric knowledge between medical professional and patient and physician assisted suicide. If we respect autonomy, can we deny a patient’s request to die? Should doctors, traditionally committed to prolonging life, be involved in assisted suicide? How can providers honour the conflicting requirements of non maleficence, beneficence, and autonomy at the same time with this issue?

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