Making Ethical Decisions
Making Ethical Decisions
Making Ethical Decisions
Health practitioners are aware of the importance of ethical decision making in their profession. Knowledge on ethics is important and it helps the physicians deal with critical health issues and concerns. In the past, health workers have had to deal with ethical dilemmas regarding issues of life over death such as abortion and euthanasia. Different principles such as morality and religion are important in guiding the health practitioners in the decision they should make. In modern times, health workers have utilized ethics principles when making decisions. They have used the principles of patient autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice when making decisions. They do not particularly use one principle and neither do they depend on the identified principles only. Most health practitioners use a combination of values and beliefs when making ethical decisions. Ethical decision in the medical field benefits many people including the health practitioners, the patients, and the community.
Doctors apply different principles, values, and beliefs when making ethical decisions. Some look at the consequences of their actions before determining the course to take. This involves choosing the alternative that will result to the most good. Making decisions using such beliefs may be controversial in the medical field. For instance, choosing to end someone’s life so that he cannot continue living in pain is unethical, although it might seem the greatest good. It is not always easy to determine who will benefit from the action taken. Another problem that might occur when using this approach is that people cannot predict the consequences of their actions. Other health practitioners do something because it is the right thing to do. They will tell the truth because it is the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences involved. Such health practitioners will oppose any action that involves killing a human being even if it means saving another’s life. For instance, they will not support the idea of abortion if they consider it murder, even if it means saving the mother’s life.
Ethical decision-making is important to healthcare practitioners. It has been instrumental in ensuring that the health workers maintain professionalism in their work. It has guided many workers faced with ethical dilemmas that they do not know how to handle. Ethical decision-making has ensured the continuity of the medical profession. Medical ethics guide practitioner to identify moral dilemmas, deliberate on them, evaluate the possible choices, and make the ultimate decisions. Health practitioners are able to make policies that will provide future guidance in ethical decision-making. Medical ethics is especially important in providing guidance to students and new employees. Although they will have learnt about ethics in school, they do not have the necessary experience to enable them handle complicated ethical issues. However, they can be able to solve ethical conflicts if there is a code of ethics provided. Doctors and other health workers develop such a code from the experience they have acquired working in the field. They will often have experienced numerous cases, and this will enable them make informed decisions and develop practical guidelines (Wear & Aultman, 2006 pp.140). Physicians who apply ethics gain the trust of their patients. The patients are confident that they are receiving the best care and they trust the physicians with their lives. Trustworthiness is important, as it defines the relationship between a patient and the health practitioner.
Making ethical decisions is important to the patients. They trust in the physicians to deliver the best care possible. Patients may not always make the best or the most informed decisions. Physicians who apply ethics in their work can be able to change a patients mind. The principle of non-maleficence holds that doctors should do no harm to their patients. This may sometimes raise ethical conflict. The patient may ask the health worker to take an action that will endanger his life more (Rich, 2001 pp.10). The principle of autonomy requires health workers to respect the wishes of the patients. Hence, the health workers can face a dilemma if the patient wants them to do something, which they believe will cause them more harm. Ethics is about evaluation of the choices available. Many choices in medicine are often complex, and they are nit just an issue of good or bad. Many cases of euthanasia are complex. Although a physician may believe in the preservation of life, he or she can be compelled to take action such as removing a patient from life support to end his suffering.
Health workers consider the best alternatives for the community. The community benefits when health practitioners make ethical decisions. They are assured of better treatment and reasonable costs when they visit health institutions. They benefit when the doctors raise awareness concerning diseases and other health concerns. They do not have to worry about medical malpractices, which can be costly to the individuals and families. Health workers may sometimes have to override a patient’s autonomy and implement the best practices for the community. Some members of the community suffer because they lack necessities such as healthcare. They cannot afford frequent medical checkups. Health workers who apply ethics are able to help such individuals. This is especially the case with health workers, who provide their services without considering how they benefit individually. They advocate for policies, such as provision of more government services, which benefit entire communities. Medical ethics have concentrated much on individual rights. Although people have individual rights and freedom, they also have responsibilities to their communities. Individuals have to consider their duty to others and to the society. This involves making some sacrifices on behalf of the community. It comes about from understanding the fact that one can only flourish as a member of a healthy community (Herring, 2012 pp. 34).
Health practitioners will not always know the right decision to take when faced with several options. Having ethical guidelines is important as it enables them to solve the conflicts they may experience in the line of their work. Effective decision-making involves using certain principles and values. It involves evaluating all the risks and consequences and determining the best alternative to take. Ethics in medicine have helped health practitioners maintain their professionalism. Doctors gain the patients trust and confidence when they make ethical decisions. Patients trust doctors with their lives and they are more willing to seek medical help if they know they will receive the best possible care. The health practitioners also advise the patients on the best alternative to take in case they have a problem. Ethical decision-making benefits the community. People have tended to place much focus on individual rights at the expense of responsibilities. However, making decisions based on moral judgment benefits the entire community. It leads to the development of policies and provision of resources, which benefit everybody irrespective of his or her status.
Herring, J. (2012). Medical law and ethics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Hitchcock, E. J., Schubert, E. P., & Thomas, A. S. (2003). Community health nursing: Caring in action. New York, NY: Cengage Learning
Rich, A. B. (2001). Strange bedfellows: How medical jurisprudence has influenced medical ethics and medical practice. New York, NY: Springer
Wear, D., & Aultman, M. J. (2006). Professionalism in medicine: Critical perspectives. New York, NY: Springer
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