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Introduction to Midwifery

Introduction to Ethics of Healthcare

This essay focuses on the four basic principles of the healthcare ethics among which each addresses the value that rises in between providers and patients. Petrakaki & Kornelakis (2016, p. 7) stated that these basic principles are important in healthcare because it addresses the issue of fairness, honesty, and also respect among fellow human beings. Furthermore, Priest (2018, p. 62) stated that these important four principles in healthcare can provide a simple, accessible, and also culturally neutral approach to think in the ethical issues arising in healthcare. Although these rules don’t provide an ordered rule but can help in guiding and helping the doctors and also other healthcare workers to make the right decision and also reflect upon the moral issues that arise at the workplace. This paper focuses on understanding and critically analyzing the four important principles of healthcare – autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and also justice. This is an attempt to reflect upon the learning and elaborating the knowledge on the basic principles and ethics of the healthcare that was accessed and learned throughout the course material.

Principle of Autonomy

DeGrazia (2020, p. 71) states that the principle of autonomy is an American value that focuses on deciding for oneself and also known as self-government. In healthcare, the principle of autonomy is important because it requires the patient to be told truth about his condition and body so that he can make an informed decision at the right time to prevent any disadvantages. Under the law, patients may deny treatment even after informed information which indicates that treatment may not be beneficial for the patient or it may harm other individuals (Priest 2018, p. 62). It is understood that people have the right to control what is happening in their bodies through informed consent. This principle is considered to be the most important principle of healthcare as it involves provide complete information to the patient about his health so that he can either accept or reject any medical treatment that needs to be undertaken (Priest 2018, p. 62). These ethics state that people have the right to control what happens to their bodies because they are rational and also free. Additionally, according to this ethic, decisions should be respected by everyone even if the decisions are sometimes not taken in the best interest of the patient (DeGrazia 2020, p. 71). However, furthermore, it was understood that autonomy does not negate the responsibility. An ethical surety is that physicians or any healthcare professionals cannot make any unilateral decision without the consent of the patient or any competent adult or emancipated minor. Emancipated patients are those people who are under 18 years old and can make legal decisions for themselves without their parent's consent.

Principles of Beneficence

 This principle states that the best care should be given that is in the best interest of the patient. The definition proposed by Bond & Drake (2018, p. 51) states that the principles of beneficence state that health care providers must take all the actions and steps that can benefit the patient in every situation. Petrakaki & Kornelakis (2016, p. 7) states that the principle of beneficence reflects on being kind and caring towards the patients. This practice reflects that the healthcare provider needs to be designed in such a way that it can focus on bringing positive outcomes. Priest (2018, p. 62) stated that the principle of beneficence always focuses on understanding benefit versus harm and subjective vs objective determination. The beneficent decision can be considered to be subjective only if the decision is made regardless of who was making it (DeGrazia 2020, p. 71). Traditionally, it is understood that the decision-making process and ultimate decision are generally determined by the physicians. However, it is learned that this is not the case anymore now, as today the healthcare provider and also the patient are central to the decision making process. This code of ethics is for all the healthcare provides which makes them focus on striving to make improvements in the patient's health and also do the most for the patients in every situation. In further explanation, what is good for one patient may not be good for other patients and hence in every situation healthcare providers should consider the case carefully. Other ethics, values, and problems that conflict with the beneficence should also be taken into consideration so that there is no harm done to the patient (Priest 2018, p. 62). To ensure beneficence, the health care professionals must maintain and also develop a high level of skill and knowledge which ensures that they are trained every day on how to practice best medicine skills and work towards the positive outcome from every patient case. All the treatments, medication, and procedures that should be taken into consideration should involve the intension of doing good with patients.


The third important principle in healthcare is Non-maleficence which focuses on the value “first, not harm”. Priest (2018, p. 62) states that “first, do no harm” remains to the bedrock of Non-maleficence ethics in healthcare. Under this principle, it is guided that health care professionals should prevent causing damage or harming their patients. Additionally, health care professionals need to focus on the doctrine of double effect, where a treatment intended for good unintentionally causes harm to the patient. Considering this doctrine during the Non-maleficence ethic is important because it helps you to make difficult decisions about what actions with double effects can be undertaken and which can be avoided (Priest 2018, p. 62). Luyten (2020, p. 71) states that as Non-maleficence focuses on causing no harm to the patients and the customers, it is understood to be the best practice in the ethics of healthcare. This principle is intended to take the person to the end goal which focuses that the medical providers must consider that other people or the society could be harmed by the decision made by the professionals, even if it is made for the benefit of the betterment of the patient. In further to this, it was understood that case managers can be accused of Non-maleficence omission if they fail to coordinate a patient's care and causes any kind of harm or damage to him. A classic example of Non-maleficence is discharging the patient to an inappropriate level of care or leaving a patient in a dangerous situation inspite of demanded treatment or care. Harm by an act of omission is an important part of Non-maleficence which means that some actions would have been taken into consideration to avoid the harm but were not taken. An act of omission can be described as something which is actually done to harm the patient with an unintentional meaning. The principle of Non-maleficences stated that the healthcare professionals and the caretakers are right as long as they work in the interest of the patients and also avoid negative consequences (DeGrazia 2020, p. 71). Under this ethical consideration, the key role of the case manager is to be an advocate for the patient and also neglecting the role that could not maleficent. Collins (2020, p.41) states that it is important to consider the unethical act of commission as it would break confidentiality be releasing some information that might be harmful to the patients. Patients who are suffering from a terminal illness are often considered seriously as they are often concerned that technology will maintain a life beyond their wishes and hence at such time, the healthcare professionals are advised to provide at most care and cause no harm during the important stages of life. Additionally, the Bond & Drake (2018, p. 51) states that the patient can still choose to hasten death if the viable options are available (Priest 2018, p. 62). The right of an individual to choose to die with dignity is understood to be the ultimate manifestation of autonomy, but on the other hand, the healthcare providers need to accept the death of the patient when there are many options available (Luyten 2020, p. 71). In many cases, it is illegal to hasten death in many states and countries. Also, it was understood that sometimes patients make their wish clear to die or end life, but in such case family members or relatives are not able to fulfill their desires and provide the permission of death to the patient. In such cases, it is stated that treating against the wish of the patient can potentially result in mental issues and also harm the family and family members of the patient (Bond & Drake 2018, p. 51). Currently, removing ventilator or oxygen equipment from the patients is permitted which may cause natural death only when the patient says that no extraordinary measures need to be taken to sustain his life (DeGrazia 2020, p. 71).

Principle of Justice

The last principle yet the most important once in healthcare is justice. Collins (2020, p.41) stated that the principle of justice truly reflects upon the equity and fairness in the treatment. The fourth principle demands that healthcare professionals must try to be fair as much as possible while offering advice or treatment to the patients and allocating some medical resources. This principle is important for the professionals as they should be able to justify the actions in every situation without giving any false information, reasons, or satisfactory answers. One among the famous healthcare professionals Bond & Drake (2018, p. 51) has stated that the principle of justice has stated that there should be fairness included in the medical decision which involves fairness in the decision that benefits or burdens, equal distribution of scarce medical resources, new treatments, and also for the medical practitioners to upload the law when making the right choices. In further to this, it is understood that the principle of justice is seen to be of two types = distributive or comparative (DeGrazia 2020, p. 71). According to distributive justice, it ensures that all the medical resources and services are equally distributed among the people and throughout society. When undertaking the distribute justice principle, two similar cases should be treated similarly. Using the six material principles, healthcare professionals can identify which cases are similar to each other and which demands distributive justice in real-time (Luyten 2020, p. 71). On the other hand, comparative justice is how healthcare services are provided to the patients on a personal level. The treatment is provided based on medical history, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, race, and disparity. In particular, it is understood that distribute justice generally considers age into consideration while providing the treatments. Bias done by the health professional based on the age as compared to race or religion is considered to be ageism. In further explanation, it was understood that in the existing society, equal access to healthcare treatment and access to medical resources are rare. There is a high variation observed in the healthcare treatment and distribution of medical help due to third-party payers, the economic stability of the country, transportation, socio-economic level, and much more (Luyten 2020, p. 71).

To each person:

  • To each person an equal share
  • To each person according to need
  • To each person according to the effort
  • To each person according to the contribution
  • To each person according to merit
  • To each person according to free-market exchanges

Apart from the four important principles of healthcare mentioned above, fidelity and veracity are two more principles that play an important role. The principle of veracity focuses on truthfulness and the principle of fidelity focuses on loyalty and both these principles should be taken into consideration by the health care professionals (Luyten 2020, p. 71).

Conclusion on Ethics of Healthcare

This essay was beneficial in providing in-depth information on the principle of respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. It was understood that undertaking these principles in the healthcare industry is important for the professionals so that they can render their best service and also benefit the patient. Also, through deep analysis and learning it was understood that these four principles in the industry address the issue of fairness, honesty, and also respect for the patients and other fellow human beings. No matter whether your role is that of a doctor, nurse, or healthcare administrator, working in the healthcare field demands focus on the principles and ethics so as it is a highly rewarding and challenging profession to work. In nutshell, it was understood that the implementation of these principles is important for professionals.

Reference for Ethics of Healthcare

Barello, S., Palamenghi, L. and Graffigna, G., (2020). The mediating role of the patient health engagement model on the relationship between patient perceived autonomy supportive healthcare climate and health literacy skills. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(5), p.1741.

Bernad, R., (2018). Assessment of Fidelity to the Housing First Principles of the Habitat Programme. European Journal of Homelessness12(3), pp.83-106.

Bester, J.C., (2020). Beneficence, interests, and wellbeing in medicine: What it means to provide benefit to patients. The American Journal of Bioethics20(3), pp.53-62.

Bond, G.R. and Drake, R.E., (2019). Assessing the fidelity of evidence-based practices: History and current status of a standardized measurement methodology. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, pp.1-11.

Chukwu, C.J., (2019). Equity and Justice in health Care: A Critical Ethical Reflection on Healthcare Provision, Distribution, and Accessibility in Nigeria.

Collins, B., (2020). A Theory of Sociotechnical Justice in Healthcare (Doctoral dissertation, Temple University. Libraries).

DeGrazia, D., (2020). Value Theory, Beneficence, and Medical Decision-Making. The American Journal of Bioethics20(3), pp.71-73.

Iserson, K.V., (2020). Healthcare ethics during a pandemic. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine21(3), p.477.

Luyten, J., (2020). Cost Considerations Within a Duty of Beneficence. The American Journal of Bioethics20(3), pp.79-81.

Nelson, W., Pomerantz, A., Howard, K. and Bushy, A., (2007). A proposed rural healthcare ethics agenda. Journal of Medical Ethics33(3), pp.136-139.

Petrakaki, D. and Kornelakis, A., (2016). ‘We can only request what's in our protocol’: technology and work autonomy in healthcare. New Technology, Work and Employment31(3), pp.223-237.

Priest, M., (2018), September. Autonomy-Centered Healthcare. In HEC Forum (Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 297-318). Springer Netherlands.

Raus, K., Mortier, E. and Eeckloo, K., (2018). The patient perspective in health care networks. BMC Medical Ethics19(1), pp.1-8.

Kon, A. A. (2020). Healthcare ethics consultant certification: The big picture. The American Journal of Bioethics20(3), 19-21.

Johnson, E., 2020. A Theoretical Foundation for Interprofessional Healthcare Ethics Education (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh).

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Nursing Assignment Help

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