What is Health Care Morality?

Health care professionals’ actions and decisions when providing medical care can raise a range of ethical issues that may be contentious or provoke passionate discussion. Yet most are expected to adhere to at least some ethical principles when treating their patients; the most widely held ones being beneficence, autonomy decision-making on behalf of patients and justice principles.

The Oath of Hippocrates and related medical codes of ethics contain explicit prohibitions against abortion and euthanasia, while also endorsing a moral (if not legal) obligation of confidentiality when dealing with personal information regarding patient status and condition.

Health care professionals must generally respect patients’ autonomy when making treatment decisions for them, which involves providing all pertinent and essential information about a specific condition, as well as spending whatever time may be necessary to assist with practical rational deliberation on options to address said disorder. Failing to do so would constitute paternalism which violates patients’ moral right to autonomous decision-making.

Virtue ethics holds that health care professionals should exhibit at least some of the virtues typically associated with their profession, including honesty and compassion. Unfortunately, however, virtue ethics does not directly apply to health care since virtue alone cannot guarantee correct action when making moral decisions.

One of the most frequently discussed ethical issues in health care is that of beneficence, which requires healthcare providers to act so as to maximize a patient’s wellbeing and promote good health status. Beneficence encompasses various sub-principles including alleviating suffering and respecting individual values.

As with the Oath of Hippocrates, beneficence is generally recognized as an essential element of medical practice. Unfortunately, health care professionals sometimes engage in acts of maleficence that harm their patients intentionally or unintentionally – sometimes to great detriment of both parties involved.

Unintentional acts by health care professionals such as physicians are all too often the source of infection in surgery sites, leading to post-operative infections that could potentially prove deadly. When this occurs, health care providers should acknowledge their error and make appropriate restitution payments as soon as possible; in some instances quarantines and other measures must also be implemented in order to maintain public safety.

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作者: admin