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Medical Ethics (Essay Sample)


this was a paper on medical ethics and practices

Medical Ethics
Ethics are the principles and guidelines that are used to judge right and wrong situations and provide a code of conduct and standard behaviors. Most health practitioners are guided by these principles. It is required of them to treat all patients equally as well as promoting health and saving lives. These medics are expected to go beyond their normal responsibilities to make sure that a patient does not die. The ethics require these medical practitioners to prevent and treat illnesses without compromising rights and dignity of the patient (Hope 76).
Most doctors, nurses and other medics have been, at one time or another, faced by situations which require instant life and death decisions. This is always a difficult decision to make for any physician. However, being a doctor means that someone has to be ready to make these difficult situations. There are, however, some situations that modern day doctors and other medical practitioners find themselves that spur a lot of controversies and heated discussions. These situations are mostly brought about by the advances in modern medicine practices that have come up in the past few years. Some of these subjects in medicine that have sparked debates all over include, among others the practice of human cloning (Hope 45).
Scientists have not yet been able to completely clone a human being, but there have been advanced achievements towards the same. In fact, the only widely known successful cloning experiment was done by scientists in Scotland who cloned a sheep, called Dolly. Although there has also been some successful cloning procedures done on mice, human cloning is yet to take root. Scientists who are interested to do such experiments argue that they will be able to clone children for spouses who wish to have children but cannot have them using the conventional and natural means. But some ethical issues must come along such discussions. Will these scientists be able to clone people who have died? Will the cloning of dead people really be ethical? Will the cloned people have the kind of life like the other people? What about the government, will they allow or outlaw such practices?
This, with no doubt, may cause an ethical and religious uproar. In humans, advances like in-vitro fertilization have been outstanding. This is the practice where the conception of a child happens outside the womb. When the first experiment of this type was first done, almost everyone was impressed with this milestone achievement in the medical industry. This was in 1978 when the first test-tube baby was born. Conception and incubation of the child had taken place outside the womb, something that was, at that time, unprecedented. Soon thereafter, however, the ethical issue came into play (Hope 46).
There were debates all over, from religious quarters, to the ethicists themselves and even other physicians. Many questioned whether it was ethical to create life using technology. Reproductive technology, apparently, does not involve in-vitro fertilization only. There are other practices involved such as sperm donation and implant of selected embryos with desired genetic traits. On the flip-side, these technological advancements have been a huge relief foe spouses and other people who desire to have children when all the other means have failed.
The controversy that always surrounds most medical procedures has in some cases turned around to become real medical milestones. Organ transplantation, for example, is a perfect case of a medical procedure that faced a lot of ethical debates when it was being introduced. Taking an organ from one body and transferring it to another was seen as a ridiculous medical procedure that violated all ethics of medicine practice. However, most people, including these critics, have come to appreciate this procedure that has gone a long way in saving lives. This procedure has been around for only several decades since its practice started in the early 1980’s.
Through this practice, thousands of lives have been saved, especially during illnesses where there are organ failures. Medics are, therefore, able to transplant an organ from either a corpse or a living body into a patient’s body with the help of immunosuppressant drugs. But as always, medical procedures that have ethically questioned have had their flip sides. Years after medical practitioners started to do organ transplantation procedures; there were cases that the procedure was being misused in China. Here, they were supposedly harvesting human organs from bodies of prisoners who had been executed. This, to say the least, shocked the world (Veatch 76).
On one side, there were those who argued that the prison authorities did not have the prisoners’ consent to harvest their organs. The government was also being accused of making profit this practice by selling the harvested organs. On the other hand, there were those who claimed that there was nothing wrong in the practice since the prisoners would die anyway. According to those who supported the practice, it would be better if these organs were harvested and used to save lives in hospitals. The moral issue of using the dead to help the living has been haunting organ transplantation procedures for as long as the pract5ice has existed. The abuse of medical technological advancements tailored to save lives is a common discussion ground in medical ethics.
As it can be ascertained so far, most medical practices do not spark ethical issues only when they are abused or misused. Most of these procedures, and especially those that are technologically driven, have come under fire for their moral orientation and viability. Take, for example, cases where doctors have patients who are suffering to the extent that they express their wish to die or to have their death quickened. The doctor is left at crossroads, many times not knowing whether to respect the wish of the patient or to stick to the professional obligation of preserving and saving life.
When medical practitioners started using artificial respirators, the euthanasia debate kicked in. This medical equipment is known to prolong a patient’s existence, or life, when the brain has ceased to function. During this time, most people doubted the morality of this medical practice and would not agree not be associated with the use of machines to support life. The debate whether a doctor should leave a patient to die when there is the option of saving their lives with a machine is still discussed to the present day. On one hand, doctors have the responsibility and obligation to save the life of a patient; while on the other hand, a patient can give a contradicting wish, which the doctor may also be obligated to respect.
The advancements that have been made in medical technology have expanded the accomplishments that medicine has been able to make so far. There is always fear that medical ethics may fail to keep up with the high rate of technological developments. Today, the management of moral issues and ethics in any organization, and especially medical organizations, is considered very important.
Medical ethics are mainly governed by several principles. Among them is the principle of beneficence. According to this, a medical practitioner should always put the interest of the patient first above all things. The second principle guides the medical practitioner not to do any harm to the patient. This one seeks to safeguard the interest and safety of the patient. A doctor is, therefore, not expected to do anything that would harm the patient. Another principle that guides medics when it comes to ethical matters is the principle of autonomy. According to this principle, a patient who is of sound mind has got the right to either accept or refuse treatment.
In addition to all these, there is the principle of justice which requires medical practitioners to make sound decisions when distributing the scarce medical resources. This also applies to situations where doctors have to make decisions that concern giving the right treatment to the right patient. Ina nutshell, the patient should be served in a just way. Another principle that guides medical ethics is the principle of dignity. This one requires the patient to be treated with dignity. Additionally, there is the principle of honesty and truthfulness. This one requires the medical practitioner to always give the patient all the necessary information.
There is also need for the medic to get the consent of the patient before performing any medical procedure that requires consent. These, however, are just the guidelines. They don’t necessarily give straight answers on how to handle particular ethical situations. They just serve to help the doctors and patients resolve the conflicts that arise due to the ethical issues involved in the practice of medicine. The conflicts may mostly arise between the patients and their family or the medical staff.
There are some particular cases which attract a lot of controversy in ethical medicine practice. A patient may, for example, refuse to take medication. This may end up causing conflict in the application of ethical procedures. While on one hand the patient’s decision should be respected, the doctor, on the other hand, is obligated to ensure that the patient gets the treatment. This goes to show that there is no system that is perfect. In such a case, a balance should be struck where the most appropriate option is arrived at. For example, the doctor may administrate the medicine through a drink without the knowledge of the patient. It is important to keep in mind that different people have got different opinions and values. The moral orientation differs between people. Whereas some people will act according to their religious values, others do not consult such.
Even though ethics and the law might hav...
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