When it comes to healthcare professionals, everyone from all types of cultures and moral backgrounds are supposed to share the same common code of medical ethics. This approach is designed to provide every patient with the right care and treatment they deserve. The four basic principles serve as the basis for ethics in the medical industry. From better ethical decisions to noticing unethical practices, these principles have guided medical professionals for years and continue to do so.
The medical industry utilizes four main principles of ethics:
All four of these come together to aid healthcare professionals in diagnosing, treating and caring for patients. With every patient and situation, it’s important for medical workers to ensure they follow all four.
Autonomy refers to the patient’s rights in regards to their own body. No matter what the medical practitioner believes, the patient has final say about their treatment.
Beneficence means medical professionals must do everything they can to provide the best care for a patient. This includes staying current in new medical practices and sharing relevant knowledge with patients so they can decide which course of treatment they prefer.
Non-maleficence is essentially “do no harm.” A healthcare professional must carefully analyze decisions to ensure they don’t harm the patient or others.
Finally, justice deals with ensuring medical decisions are made fairly. This is often one of the hardest ethical principles. For instance, deciding between two patients who need a heart transplant when only one heart is available.
Extended Principles Of Medical Ethics
Even though the extended principles of medical ethics aren’t considered law, they still hold medical professionals accountable to a specific code of conduct. These principles must apply to patients, the general public, fellow professionals and themselves. Overall, the AMA Code Of Medical Ethics states that physicians and medical professionals should always respect the rights of others, continue their education to provide the best care and treatment, provide healthcare to all and always remain professional.
One area that may stand out is taking responsibility to point out when the law doesn’t fit with the best interests of a patient. While medical professionals must follow current laws, they can begin the process of trying to change laws that go against what a patient needs and even a medical professional’s ethics.
Questioning Medical Ethics
Sadly, medical ethics aren’t always black and white. However, it is the responsibility of those in the medical industry, patients and their families to understand the ethics professionals should have and what actually constitutes unethical behavior. By reporting issues when they occur, the industry can weed out those who refuse to follow the basic principles of medical ethics. This creates a much better level of care for patients.
Everything from taking bribes for prescriptions to catering to certain patients over others must be reported. Using anonymous hotlines helps people feel safer, especially fellow medical professionals, in making the healthcare industry a safer place.