The healthcare industry is complex—it is a demanding field with difficult choices to make every day. The first maxim in this industry is ‘Primum non nocere,’ which translates to First, do no harm. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Doctors, nurses, and administrators find themselves in tight spots, trying to navigate ethical issues.
Here is a list of some of the ethical issues they face.
Malpractice and Negligence
Malpractice and negligence involve a medical error. It could be something like the healthcare professional giving substandard treatment or omitting to take appropriate action. This leads to harm, injury, or in some cases, the death of a patient.
Medical malpractice law allows patients to recover compensation for any harm resulting from sub-standard treatment. Patients or their families can even seek assistance from malpractice lawyers in Chicago to advocate for their rights. There are more than 15,000 medical malpractice suits against doctors in the United States every year.
Trust is such an important part of healthcare. A patient needs to trust their healthcare provider to act professionally. They should see them as figures of authority, not as potential sexual partners. That is why it is ethically wrong for healthcare providers to enter into a personal relationship with a current patient.
Should a healthcare provider violate this policy, they can have their license to practice revoked. It is viewed as an abuse of power on the part of the healthcare professional since a patient under medical care is considered vulnerable.
Confidentiality is one of the core values of medical practice. Patients normally share personal information with their healthcare providers, so a framework must be established to protect this information.
The obligation of confidentiality prohibits healthcare professionals from disclosing patients’ information without their consent. However, there can be grey areas. For instance, electronic medical records can make it harder to uphold patient confidentiality.
Healthcare providers can also find themselves in tough situations, such as when a family member asks how the patient is doing. They cannot ethically justify sharing that information if the patient has not given explicit permission.
Informed consent refers to communication between a patient and their healthcare provider, leading to permission for care, treatment, or services. The patient can ask questions and get information before any procedure or treatment. If the patient is an adult and mentally able to make decisions, medical care can only begin after they have informed consent. Additionally, patients can change their minds even after signing the consent form.
Although several people in the United States have health insurance, others don’t. That raises an ethical challenge for healthcare workers. Should they reject someone in dire need of treatment because they lack health insurance? Is it ethical for healthcare to be that expensive? The health vs profitability debate has been around for decades and doesn’t seem to end anytime soon.
Issues Around Physician-Assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted dying is legal in some states, like California. Looks like the “Do no harm” policy is taking new forms, such as providing relief to patients dying or suffering from a fatal illness. As time moves by, more and more healthcare professionals are supporting PAD. At the moment, it is estimated that 50% of doctors are in support.
DNR orders have always been a bone of contention. A DNR order instructs a healthcare practitioner not to perform CPR if the patient’s heart stops beating or stops breathing. These orders can only be written in a patient-doctor consultation.
Ethical Issues in the Future
The medical field is evolving rapidly. As new technologies come along, they will also pose new challenges regarding ethics. For instance, healthcare professionals can expect issues such as the hacking of medical devices and bioterrorism.