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Ethical Principles in Health Care Essay

Deontology and Consequentialism/Utilitarianism have its strength and weaknesses in ethical decision making. The power of deontology lies in its sets of clear moral boundaries.

Some things cannot only be done if they infringe on the rights of others. Its weakness lies in its apparent overly “legalistic” at times, and it is too focused on rules, such that its application is very rigid. The strength of Utilitarianism/Consequentialism lies in its being practical and results-oriented view. Compared to Deontology,
Consequentialism is more explicit regarding how to make ethical judgments, by merely reflecting on the consequences. However, is it possible to predict the results of an action accurately?

Conflict is inevitable. What is the middle ground? Ethical principles (principlism) provide the framework and tools which may facilitate individuals and society to resolve conflict in a fair, just and moral manner. Principilism attempts to have both ways the best of deontology and consequentialism. Beauchamp and Childress popularized it in the book Principles of Biomedical Ethics (1979).

It is also known as The ‘Georgetown Mantra,’ concerning Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, in Washington EC, USA. Principilism is now the now the dominant theory in medical (health) ethics.

The four Ethical Principles in Health Care are as follows:

  • Autonomy,
  • Beneficence,
  • Non-maleficence, and
  • Justice.

Other ethical principles include,

  • Veracity
  • Confidentiality/Privacy, and
  • Fidelity.

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In our pluralistic society, people misunderstand each other. Even if they do understand one another, it is possible for them to disagree. In the field of delivery of health care service, it is the same.

Segments of society across the globe find it necessary to find ways to create understanding and agreement. A common ground must be established or found. This is one of the functions of Health Ethics, to make a deal possible. As healthcare professionals and patients meet as strangers from diverse backgrounds, and the way of looking at and approaching health problems are usually entirely different.

Creating harmony is, of course, a challenge. People with diverse culture, self-esteem, personalities, attitude, educational level, socio-economic class, and values met in health facilities and confounded by changing the environment in the arena of healthcare. Healthcare cost is increasing, technology is improving, lifespan is increasing, and there is the reemergence of infectious diseases, and a lot of people feel of entitled to health care at a minimal cost, and the increasing importance of insurance and HMOs.

Through ethical principles and behavior, harmony among disagreement between the health care provider patients is possible. Moral principles or principles, espoused by Beachamp and Childress, provide a unique opportunity for self-respect and respect for others, serve to make it possible for professionals to deal with each other on a human level with respect across all disciplines, help to make it possible for professionals and clients to sell with each other on a human level with respect across all cultures and communities, make it possible for strangers to achieve understanding (if agreement is not reached, tolerance may be obtained).

It makes it possible for professional and clients to agree on and respect each other’s rights and to interact by shared health goals.


Four fundamental principles of ethics | http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20115/Four_Basic_principles.htm

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