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What are the principles of healthcare ethics that improve patient care?

Posted: January 27, 2022

Introduction: Working in any healthcare environment will be challenging. Many unexpected experiences come up and may have positive and negative outcomes for someone’s health. As healthcare is such a dynamic environment, that’s why it has been important to create principles of health care ethics to support medical professionals. 

There are four basic principles of healthcare ethics and bioethics. These principles are named autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. 

In some cases, veracity and fidelity are counted as ethical principles. Each of those principles is very important and carries a singular objective. However, when all four are followed and applied, together they empower the professionals and end in the most effective and high-quality health care. 

Autonomy refers to authority and control that are applied when making decisions. Within the healthcare field, it refers to the selections regarding the well-being of patients. It’s also defined because of the right of freedom on the top of the patient to manage their body before and after medical treatment. In simple words, autonomy may be described as consent and confidentiality. Someone can make decisions for oneself with no pressure. It is perceived as “self-government”. The law in any country also supports the right of people to create informed decisions about their healthcare.

 Autonomy requires the medical professionals to inform the patient about the patient’s condition and inform them about the advantages and risks of any undergoing treatment, so the patient can make the most effective decision. Under the principle of autonomy, the patients also hold the right to just accept or refuse treatment. However, autonomy doesn’t disprove responsibility. Healthcare is taken into account by a partnership between provider and patient/recipient. Thus, under the rule of autonomy, no decision may be made without the consent of the competent adult.

 Beneficence may be defined because of the representation of kindness and mercy. The results of beneficence are always positive. Beneficence always gives rise to the question of benefit versus harm. Since the start of the healthcare field, the moral decision-making process was always within the hands of the physician. 

However, this can not be the case now. Now, the healthcare providers, furthermore because the patients, play a central role within the decision-making process. Beneficence is usually confused with “non-maleficence” which refers to “giving no harm to the patients”. Beneficence encourages healthcare providers to speculate their time and efforts to confirm that each patient benefits in every situation.

 Non-Maleficence Among all the principles of healthcare ethics, non-maleficence is the most prioritized. The principle of nonmaleficence states that a healthcare professional must not harm the patients. It’s considered a responsibility of a healthcare worker to investigate each situation carefully to create informed decisions. 

Their decisions should cause no harm to the community, patients, and other healthcare professionals. Under the principle of non-maleficence, it’s the responsibility of each healthcare professional to be told about how their decisions can affect others. Four factors cover non-maleficence. Firstly, any decision mustn’t be truly wrong. Second, every decision should have a positive outcome. Third, an honest outcome should never come from a wrong action or decision. Lastly, good should always outweigh the bad.

 The simplest example may be a patient with a health complication. There are many solutions to treat the complication. The physician chooses to prescribe the patient one among such medicines that later causes hypersensitivity. The patient isn’t informed of matters and suffers from the side effects soon. This can be a case of “maleficence”. When the physician has other good options to treat a patient, it’s their responsibility to decide on the simplest option with the smallest amount of side effects. 

Moreover, healthcare professionals must inform the patient about the nice and also the bad effects of any treatment so that the patient can make the simplest decision for themselves. On the other hand, if a physician chooses to perform surgery on a patient to save his life and uses Anastasia which shortly is uncomfortable for the patient, then this can not be the case of non-maleficence. It’s because the surgery was the sole thanks to saving the patient. Furthermore, the principle of non-maleficence doesn’t only apply to the patients but also to other healthcare professionals.

 It’s the responsibility of each professional to supply a cushty environment to their colleagues also. Any action which will harm another professional either physically or morally comes under maleficence.

 Justice The principle of justice demands fairness altogether in healthcare decisions. It’s the responsibility of each patient to induce the most effective and most advanced medical treatment irrespective of their situation or economic status. There are many cases where patients didn’t get the most effective treatment thanks to their ethnic, social, or economic status. 

The healthcare code of ethics demands that the sole top priority of healthcare professionals should be to avoid wasting the lives of patients no matter any situation. An example of this principle may be a patient who comes in an emergency for medical treatment

 The medical staff finds out that the patient belongs to a minority class or is an undocumented migrant. The competent medical staff still proceeds to the treatment and confirms that the lifetime of the patient is saved. This case is solely a case of justice and fairness. Conclusion Considering all four principles of healthcare ethics, it’s evident that when truthfully followed, these principles can improve the way patients are taken care of. 

Healthcare professionals must follow a firm moral compass. With the increase of ethical dilemmas, healthcare workers must follow the four principles of healthcare ethics and provide their best to their community. If in any case, there seems to be a conflict between these principles, the physician must follow the requirement of saving their patient’s life.

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