Medical ethics refers to the application of the ethical and moral principles that adds values to the medical practice. The ethics followed in medical practice include essential values like the doctors and other medical staffs must treat the patients with care and dignity. The thesis statement is to sketch out how individual groups along with the medical staffs are to follow the medical ethics laid down under the American Medical Association. The primary responsibility of the health care providers is to provide proper and accurate treatment to the patients and taking care before and after the treatment of the patients. The American Medical Association sets out the principles of medical conduct to be followed by the healthcare professionals in order to maintain the safety and the well-being of the patients (Herring, 2014).
The health care providers promote dignity of the medical profession and are obligated to practice medicine with accountability, honesty and integrity in compliance with the statutory provisions regulating the medical conduct of the health care professionals. The patients must be treated with respect, dignity and care. The medical professionals are obligated to provide care and cater to the needs of the patients (Detmer & Shortliffe, 2014). The practice of medicine involves ethics and it is mandatory that the health care professionals follow the ethical conduct while treating the patients and ensure that they are provided with the best medical facilities. The American Medical Association (AMA) was set up in the year 1847 that outlines principles related to the training, education and the conduct of the medical professionals.
The AMA comprises guidelines that have been prepared for the benefit of the patients. The guidelines are regarded as the Principles of Medical Ethics that are enumerated below:
- The physician is under an obligation to provide appropriate medical care to the patient, treat patients with dignity, respect, and be compassionate towards them.
- The health care providers are required to practice their profession with honesty, diligence and accountability.
- The medical providers must abide by the relevant statutory legislations for the best interest and benefit of the patients.
- The medical practitioners and other medical staffs must maintain the confidentiality of the medical records of the patients, colleagues and other medical professionals. They must protect and respect the privacy of the patients within the legal framework.
- The physician and the other medical staffs must involve in activities that aims at improving and well-being of the public health and the society.
- The health care professionals must ensure that no person is denied or is deprived of medical care and facilities.
Therefore, the prerequisites of code of medical ethics is to respect the patients and their decisions to refuse or select their treatment; to act for the benefit of the patients; to prevent them from any harm and to treat them with respect, care and dignity. The AMA code sets out these ethical principles to enable the health care providers develop with the ever-changing healthcare scenarios (Cardona, 2017).
The three most important elements of the American Medical Association code of ethics are as follows:
One of the most critical elements of the code of ethics is that of decision making communication and consent. It is very difficult for the nurses to determine when they should assume implied consent, when can they ethically make decisions for the patient and how effectively and competently should they communicate with the patients. The AMA assists the medical practitioners so that they can meaningfully participate in the decision making process in relation to health care. The code deals with shared decision-making, decision making for minors, communication with the patients and informed consent (Epstein and Turner, 2015). Uninformed consent and decision, which are not in the best interest of the patients, may lead to ethical as well as legal problems.
Another important element of the code of medical ethics is medical records, privacy and confidentiality. In medical profession, it is the utmost priority of the health practitioners so that they can adequately address the privacy of the patients. Medical practitioners have an acess to the physical and personal data of the patient, which might have to be kept confidential towards the best interest of the patient. The health care professionals also may have to make intrusions with respect to the privacy of the patients to provide them health care. Thus it is very important for them to protect the data and minimize intrusion of privacy.
Another important aspect of the code of conduct is provided in its chapter 9, which deals with the self-regulations of professionals. The medical professionals are permitted by the society to make their own ethical and professional standards relating to their conduct. Thus, the professionals must be held accountable for any breach in relation to the code and any gap which exist in the code set by them.
The three hospitals whose codes of conduct have been chosen in order to compare with the AMA code of conduct are Calvary Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The MGH provides the code of ethics for its employees and expects them to comply with the standards without any failure. The hospital conducts ethics rounds, which are unit based so as to allow all disciplines within the hospital to participate together in ethics standards and freely discuss their issues with each other (A focus on ethics, 2017). They also allow professionals from other heath care institution to participate as guests in the ethical program (Stokes 2015). The hospital has been able to set out its personal ethics code as a guiding standard for all its professionals. As compared to that of the AMA the hospital through its code of ethics has tries to incorporate all the elements of the AMA code of ethics within it. The hospital provides its employees that they must communicate effectively with the patients and try to address all their needs. They must effectively participate in decision making in relation to the patients care (Zahedi et al., 2015). They must obtain informed consent from the patients and comply with their needs. The code of ethics also provides that the professional must effectively participate in end of life decisions made by the patients. Although the code of ethics of MGH has tried to address all aspects needed towards a perfect medical ethics code a few aspects such as privacy has not been addressed properly by the hospital. The AMA lays strict emphasis on the privacy of the patients which is not clearly identified by the MGH.
The Calvary hospital clearly sets out the code of ethics which has to be followed by the disciplines working within it. The hospital believes in maintaining a healthy work environment in relation to respect, honesty and integrity (calvaryhospital-Code of ethics, 2017). The hospital through its code of ethics strives to promote an environment where the patients feel cared and valued. The main concern of the hospital is to promote dignity, comfort and well-being of the patients. The hospital has strict policy in relation to discrimination and abolishes any practice, which might discriminate an individual based on gender, age, religion or race. The code of ethics of Calvary hospital also provide strict guidelines in relation to the confidentiality of the data provided by the patients and makes the professionals accountable for any breach in this context. The hospital lays guidelines in relation to the conflict of interest for the employees and requires them to give priority to professional interest over personal interest (Fowler, 2015). As compared to the AMA the hospital addresses all the elements provided by the code and additionally have ethical provisions in relation to referrals, government transactions and guidelines for implementing the code of ethics. The code of ethics by the hospital helps it to carry out its day-to-day activities. However, the issues in relation to informed consent have only been addressed briefly in the code of ethics and as it is an important element, a detailed explanation of it is needed.
The last hospital whose code of ethics would be compared to that of the AMA medical ethics is Good Samaritan Hospital. The code of ethics of the GSH is divided into 5 parts and part 2 having 6 principles. Principle 1 deals with legal compliance in relation to discrimination, fraud, political activity, antitrust, tax and environment. Principle 2 deals with business ethics in relation to ethical and effective communication along with proprietary information misappropriation. Principle 3 deals with confidentiality of data and privacy of the patient. Principle 5 delas with asset protection and 6 with business relationships like gifts, inducements and contracting. The part 5 of the code of ethics deals with reporting of violation, compliance officers, disciplinary actions, good faith reporting, procedure to deal with investigation (Code of conduct, 2017). As compared to that of the the AMA medical ethics the hospital has provided guidelines in all aspects of medical professionalism (Code of Medical Ethics, 2017). It not only deals with the procedure to be adopted in relation to patients but also for the personal development of the professionals.
Medical ethics refers to the values and principles that very health care professionals must follow in the profession of medicine. The patients trust their doctors that they would address their concerns and act appropriately to resolve their grievances. Now, the code of medical ethics is not restricted to the medical practitioners only, there are other individuals who are required to follow the ethical code (Douglas et al., 2014). These individuals include the nurses, patients and family of the patients and other professional organizations as well.
The medical practitioners are under an obligation to provide complete care and accurate treatment to the patients. They are responsible for maintaining the medical records of their patients confidential, thus, respecting and safeguarding their privacy. The doctors must provide relevant information to the patients to enable them take proper decisions. They must not cause any harm or pain to the patients and act in their best interest. Before undergoing treatment, the medical practitioner must inform the patient about the treatment procedure and obtain consent from the patient (Faden, Beauchamp & Kass, 2014). They must respect the decision of the patient to select or refuse any treatment procedure.
The nurses and other medical staffs under an obligation to provide high quality care to the patients. They are required to maintain the privacy of the patients and must disclose the medical records and other relevant information of the patients. Patients from different cultural background must be treated with respect and dignity and must have access to all the medical facilities. Nurses must follow the ethical code and practice their profession with honesty, accountability and diligence (Blais, 2015). They must ensure that the patients are provided after care facilities and avoid conflict of interest for the benefit of the patients.
The family of the patients must comply with the code of ethics and cooperate with the doctors and other medical staffs in discharging their duties. When the medical practitioner provides detail information about the treatment procedure and the patients are unable to provide consent owing to their age or illness or other incapacities, it is the responsibility of the patient’s family to decide for them (Nelson & Staggers, 2017). When a patient is unable to take proper decision about the treatment procedure to be undertaken, the medical staffs must provide detailed information to the family, friends or carers of the patients to enable them to represent the patient.
Moreover, the medical professional may require their consent to disclose the medical records or other relevant information of the patients to other medical professionals regarding the treatment of the patients (Drazen, Solomon & Greene, 2013). The friends, family or the carers must give immediate consent to the doctors for the benefit of the patients, in case where the patient himself is unable to give proper consent for the same. The patient’s acquaintance must maintain the confidentiality of the patient’s medical records and shall not disclose or discuss about the same with any person other than the medical practitioner treating the patient (Agaku et al., 2014).
The other health care organizations, private, non-private also tend to follow the medical ethical code to ensure better healthcare facilities for the benefit of the patients (Goodman et al., 2013). These organizations include American Society of law, Medicine and Ethics, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, etc.
From the above discussion conclusion can be drawn medical practice must be patient-centered. The patient-doctor relationship forms the cornerstone of medical practice. Patients expect the medical practitioners to treat them respectfully and with dignity. They share their medical concerns with the healthcare providers with the confidence that their privacy shall be maintained and safeguarded by the medical staffs. Based on the above facts, it is established that the group of individuals are required to follow the medical ethics and co operate with the medical staffs for the benefit of the patient. The foremost duty of every healthcare provider must to treat the patients with accurate treatment and provide them with the best health facilities for the well-being and safety of the patients and welfare of the community.
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