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Ethical aspects in medical care

Bioethics is the branch of ethics that provides the principles for correct action in aspects related to life. Broadly speaking, bioethics aims to distinguish between what should be or should be done and what should not be or should not be done, in acts that affect life (human and non-human). Bioethics applied to medical acts is also known as medical ethics.

The importance of medical ethics lies in the need to regulate medical acts in a world in which scientific discoveries and technological advances happen quickly, opening up new possibilities for action. That they can Doing many things does not mean that they all have to be done.

The medical ethics judged medical procedures based on four fundamental principles: non – maleficence, beneficence, autonomy and justice. The acts of physicians and other health professionals should be guided by these principles. 

The principle of non-maleficence is considered the most important, and means that any medical act must first of all claim no harm, directly or indirectly. This principle is often referred to with its Latin version, primum non nocere , which literally means first not to harm . 

The principle of beneficence

It is closely related, and refers to the fact that medical acts must have the intention of producing a benefit for the person in whom the act is performed. These two principles can be exemplified by any medical treatment, such as a medication or surgery. When a doctor write prescription treatment he should have two intentions in mind: first, not to harm him, and second, to benefit him. This may seem obvious and repetitive, but the difference between not harming and improving is important. All medical treatments have adverse or harmful effects, they can even be fatal and most of the time it can not be known for sure if the adverse effect will occur or not. Hence, it is necessary to ensure that the intention to indicate a treatment is not to produce an adverse effect, but on the contrary, give a benefit to the patient. When a doctor considers the potential benefits and potential adverse effects of a treatment, he is doing a risk / benefit analysis, and in the final decision to prescribe or not a treatment is governed by the principles of non-maleficence and beneficence simultaneously.

The principle of autonomy

Another example of respect for the principle of autonomy is joint decision-making, and does not mean that the patient decides in an absolute way, but that the final decision is the result of a dialogue between doctor and patient in which the former acts as counselor and facilitator, and the second provides his wishes, values ​​and expectations. Another example in which the principle of autonomy plays a central role is professional secrecy. All the information a patient shares with their doctor is strictly confidential and the doctor should not disclose it without the patient’s permission. Rather, the final decision is the result of a dialogue between doctor and patient in which the former acts as counselor and facilitator, and the latter contributes his wishes, values ​​and expectations as recommended by prescription hope. Another example in which the principle of autonomy plays a central role is professional secrecy. All the information a patient shares with their doctor is strictly confidential and the doctor should not disclose it without the patient’s permission. rather, the final decision is the result of a dialogue between doctor and patient in which the former acts as counselor and facilitator, and the latter contributes his wishes, values ​​and expectations. Another example in which the principle of autonomy plays a central role is professional secrecy. All the information a patient shares with their doctor is strictly confidential and the doctor should not disclose it without the patient’s permission.

The principle of justice requires treating each patient as it should; that is, with no more or less attributes than those that his condition deserves. This principle is behind the ideal of having health services of optimum quality accessible to the entire population in an equitable manner. The principle of justice in the costs of health care should also be considered. 

Occasionally during health care an ethical conflict arises, that is, a situation in which the values ​​of some of the involved actors do not correspond with the values ​​of another and make decision making difficult. In these cases, the application of the four principles of bioethics is useful to reach a solution.