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Importance of Ethics in Healthcare System

Healthcare ethics (also called medical ethics/bioethics) encompass a set of moral principles, beliefs and values that guide our choices and decision-making in healthcare. It is the core and heart of the patient-centric healthcare system. Ethics help us in judging and discriminating between our sense of right and wrong, reinforcing our beliefs about the rights we possess and endorsing the duties we owe to society. A careful contemplation of the ethical aspects enables us in choosing the right options for making justifiable healthcare decisions.

All healthcare professionals are bound by legal and ethical obligations to ensure the best interests of patients seeking care services. They must necessarily demonstrate ethical behavior and responsibility by doing the right thing for the patient to ensure the best possible healthcare outcomes. Most healthcare professions define ethical codes and practices.

Here are a few examples of healthcare ethics:
  • Taking crucial decisions about end-of-life care like continuing life support system to a brain-dead patient.
  • Doing fund allocation by prioritizing the treatment of chronic diseases and promotion of public health.
  • Crucially identifying gaps in the health status of the population strata and contemplating on the ethical obligations to ensure equitable healthcare access to all.
  • Enabling pathways for ensuring ethical conduct in medical research.
  • Investigating the ethical implications of cloning technology in genetics.

Underlying Principles of Healthcare Ethics

The four cardinal principles of ethics in healthcare include:
  • Autonomy which implies that the patient’s right to take their own healthcare decisions must be completely respected.
  • Beneficence which indicates that the patients must be supported and helped adequately in their best interests for improvement of health status.
  • Nonmaleficence which is essential to ensure that no harm is done to the patient.
  • Justice which promotes unbiased handling of all patient engagement alike in a fair manner without partiality.

Impact of Healthcare Ethics

Ethics has a significant impact on quality management in healthcare. This is because it is an integral part of discussions about treatment choices and care options that involve patients, caretakers, family and healthcare facilities like hospitals. Hence it calls for a critical analysis of the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients and the infrastructure needed to improve public healthcare systems. Sound ethics are also the building blocks of good hospital quality management because it ensures the delivery of standardized and unbiased value-based care procedures in a timely fashion. An ethical approach also ensures total hospital patient satisfaction since it creates a strong foundation of mutual trust and empowerment between the giver(hospital) and the taker(patient).

Healthcare consultants can reinforce ethical practices by their sincere involvement in standardizing medical practices and deliberating clinical resource allocations. They also do a critical and ethical analysis of healthcare determinants. This is done by introspecting the complicated moral choices which evolve from ongoing healthcare restructuring and advancing technology.

Benefits of Healthcare Ethics

  • Standardizes healthcare decision making – By deploying a consistent model of ethical standards creates a roadmap for uniform decision making by all employees in the healthcare organization. It thus simplifies the process by setting predefined norms with a set of principles resulting in fewer ethical dilemmas because standardized protocols and action guidelines are in place.
    Improves patient centricity – Ethical standards promote primary healthcare concerns with a strong focus on patient needs by using predefined guidelines. This minimizes medical errors by the practitioners who are committed to following the rules.
    Enhances public support for the medical profession - Promotion of ethical practices improves public image and builds public trust. This, in turn, encourages community donations and funding for new healthcare projects and initiatives.
    Promotes research and development - Ethical principles determine the types of medical research to be conducted. This is crucial for the continuance of the healthcare profession in addressing curing existing diseases and developing preventive healthcare approaches.

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