The ethics are psychological aspects that divert wrong towards the right, bad towards good and imperfect towards perfect in almost all scopes of practice, profession and human functionality. Medical ethics involves moral principles that are applied to make clinical decisions based on values. These medical ethics helps to avoid conflict and confusion in sensitive issues of human perceptions. These medical ethical principles are autonomy respect, beneficence, justice and non-maleficence (Herring, 2014). The medical ethics can be practically applied based on situation, circumstances, issues and requirement of vulnerable conditions. There are certain guidelines, standards and rules that professional have to follow for practical implementation of ethics. Therefore, personal judgement and perception as per these rules and guidelines help in the practical use of ethical principles in the health profession (Devettere, 2010).
According to the study of Fox et al. (2010), medical ethics incorporates practical use in the history, sociology and philosophy of clinical settings providing work quality. The respect of autonomy allows patient right to accept or reject any kind of medical process as per their choice. The ethical principle of beneficence helps healthcare professional to work in best interest of the patient. Further, non-maleficence promotes treatment without causing harm and justice allow fair and equal treatment for all patients. Mayosi & Benatar (2014) studied that medical ethics are the academic term that holds much practical importance for making correct decisions, practising healthcare, obtaining consent and providing fair services to human beings. Medical ethical knowledge helps to resolve dilemmas, prevent the rise of issues, and practice interpersonal skills.
The respect of autonomy ethics considers self-determination to individual rights as a part of medical treatment. The informed consent, patient confidentiality, quality of life, advance directives and paternalistic tradition are some practical use of autonomy in healthcare (Fry et al. 2010). According to Venter et al. (2014), healthcare professionals practically use respect of autonomy by allowing the patient to make the decision related to their health. The informed consent, advance directives are some prominent example of practically applied respect for autonomy. The informed consent is the permission that any healthcare professional needs to attain from their patient before undergoing any treatment process. Hence, the practice of informed consent provides complete authority to the patient for accepting or rejecting the treatment. Further, the advance directive is a living will of patient where a legal document is prepared by the patient for allowing any other person to take his or her medical decisions or legal document describing actions for his or her health. These two are the most practical use of autonomy medical ethics.
Thorarinsdottir & Kristjansson (2014) studied that every healthcare professional needs to maintain patient information confidentiality by not sharing any information with any other person except the patients. Even the healthcare code of ethics states that, every professional needs to value ethical information management system. Now, the next medical ethics of beneficence as studied by Chen et al. (2014) is practically used to provide best patient care with or without any personal benefit or concern by healthcare professionals. Beneficence as a general principle is doing positive for all, therefore, in healthcare, this principle is even applied to benefit the third party except the physician and patient involved in the treatment process. As per ethics of beneficence, a healthcare profession should consider the third party as the part of treatment, this third party can be family, friend or partner of the patient.
Further, Martin et al. (2014) indicated that paternalism is another practical application of beneficence ethics in healthcare. The paternalism is actually an authoritative behaviour that people, organisation or state implements for the welfare of any person or group. It is a form of administration that a father uses for benefit of his children. Therefore, in healthcare paternalism is followed by an application of beneficence where professional work or manage in an authoritative manner only to benefit the patient. Etienne et al. (2010) also studied about “End of medicine” concept as a use of beneficence in the healthcare. The nature and goal of medicine as based on beneficence principle where medicine means healing which motives to benefit patient. As medicine benefits the patient by curing disease, end of medicine is complete healing means the complete benefit that is the concept of beneficence in medical science.
Now, moving on to another ethical principle of non-maleficence that is very closely related to beneficence. As per non-maleficence ethical principle, no one should be harmed or injured in any process or work. This principle is used as a major guideline of healthcare process and services where each and every healthcare professional is instructed to avoid harm to patients in all possible manners irrespective of the situation. This ethical principle is applicable on all the Australian code of ethics in healthcare (Herring, 2014). According to the study of Martin et al. (2014), the bioethical tools are live examples where the non-maleficence principle is practically applied in producing these tools. While producing and using medical tools and equipment’s there are processes and guidelines adopted that are strictly followed by professional to avoid any physical harm to the patient. Further, Etienne et al. (2010) explained that harm is a part of every medical process where the patient is harmed in form of pain as a part of the recovery process. Therefore, non-maleficence can never be strictly followed in any healthcare process but professionals are guided and instructed to follow the less harmful process having uttermost benefits for the patient.
Faden et al. (2013) provided a study on the application of justice ethical principle in healthcare scenario. As per the study, the primary goal of the ethical management team is to provide proper justice to all people involved in the healthcare process. The nursing code of ethics implies that all nurses need to value the people diversity, respect all cultures, provide a social, ecological and economically stable environment to the patients. Martin et al. (2014) indicated that healthcare professional need to follow human right regulations and laws. These are the areas where an ethical principle of justice is used in healthcare scenario. In this manner, all the ethical principles are somehow used in the healthcare profession. Respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice are the most important and ethical principles that are considered to be a keen requirement of healthcare functionality. These ethical principles help to build a proper healthcare working environment that can perfectly benefit mankind.
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Fry, S. T., Veatch, R. M., & Taylor, C. R. (2010). Case studies in nursing ethics. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Herring, J. (2014). Medical law and ethics. Oxford University Press, USA.
Chen, Y. Y., Chu, T. S., Kao, Y. H., Tsai, P. R., Huang, T. S., & Ko, W. J. (2014). To evaluate the effectiveness of health care ethics consultation based on the goals of health care ethics consultation: a prospective cohort study with randomization. BMC medical ethics, 15(1), 1.
Etienne, M., Powell, C., & Amundson, D. (2010). Healthcare ethics: the experience after the Haitian earthquake. National Naval Medical Center Bethesda MD.
Faden, R. R., Kass, N. E., Goodman, S. N., Pronovost, P., Tunis, S., & Beauchamp, T. L. (2013). An ethics framework for a learning health care system: a departure from traditional research ethics and clinical ethics. Hastings Center Report, 43(s1), S16-S27.
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Thorarinsdottir, K., & Kristjansson, K. (2014). Patients’ perspectives on person-centred participation in healthcare: a framework analysis. Nursing ethics, 21(2), 129-147.
Venter, F., Allais, L., & Richter, M. (2014). Exposure Ethics: Does Hiv Pre?Exposure Prophylaxis Raise Ethical Problems for the Health Care Provider and Policy Maker?. Bioethics, 28(6), 269-274.