Are you interested in learning about the ethical considerations involved in the biomedical industry?
Have you ever wondered what principles guide healthcare professionals in making ethical decisions? If so, you are in the right place!
Well, biomedical ethics refers to the ethical values and principles that help healthcare professionals in their decision-making process. They designed the principles to protect patients’ rights and ensure their well-being.
As learners, It’s important to understand these ethics to evaluate the values and beliefs of workers in the public health domain.
Once you learn about these ethical principles, you can easily evaluate if biomedical professionals are taking action based on these principles of biomedical ethics.
These principles of biomedical ethics include confidentiality, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, autonomy, fidelity, and veracity.
In this post, we will explore these 7 principles of biomedical ethics in depth.
So, let’s dive in and understand the ethical principles that guide the biomedical industry.
Here Are the 7 Principles of Biomedical Ethics:
Healthcare providers can navigate their ethical dilemmas using the principles of biomedical ethics.
They should maintain ethical standards while providing high-quality care by adhering to these principles.
The 7 principles of biomedical ethics are as follows:
Autonomy: Patient Choice
Autonomy is all about the freedom of choice of the concerned patients. It means that the patients may make their own healthcare decisions. They have the freedom to give consent or decline certain treatments or procedures.
In other words, it is about respecting patients’ choices and giving them control over their healthcare.
Imagine you’re in the hospital, and the doctor recommends a therapy that you don’t feel comfortable with. Autonomy implies the ability to say “no” and the expectation that your decision will be honored.
Let’s put it another way. Suppose a patient was diagnosed with a serious illness, and their family doesn’t want to disclose it to the patient. In this case, the practitioners should respect their choice and must consider keeping the patient’s medical condition confidential. It ultimately comes down to allowing patients to make decisions that are consistent with their values and beliefs.
However, in certain cases, autonomy can not be fulfilled in its all essence. For instance, if a person catches an infectious disease, they need to be isolated and are required to take prescribed medication to prevent the spread of the disease.
Respect for autonomy is critical in ensuring that patients are treated with dignity and respect.
It advocates for patient-centered care, in which the patient is seen as an active participant in their healthcare rather than a passive therapy recipient.
Beneficence: Patients' Well-Being
Beneficence is a fancy word for ‘doing good.’ In healthcare, it indicates that doctors and healthcare professionals should behave in the best interests of their patients.
This involves encouraging patients’ well-being, helping patients with disabilities, and rescuing persons in danger.
Healthcare practitioners must also refrain from delivering unneeded harm-causing therapy, such as overprescribing drugs.
They should avoid any gesture that a patient may find inappropriate. Instead, they should show empathy towards their patients.
For example, if a patient is in pain, a healthcare professional should do all possible to relieve that discomfort.
If a patient has a chronic ailment, a healthcare professional should be kind to them and establish a treatment plan that promotes their overall well-being.
Beneficence is critical in ensuring that healthcare providers put the well-being of their patients above everything else.
It emphasizes a patient-centered approach to treatment by prioritizing patients’ needs.
To sum up, beneficence is an obligation on healthcare providers to act in the best interests of their patients and promote their well-being by being empathetic and kind to their patients.
Non-maleficence: Avoiding Harm
The goal of non-maleficence is to prevent damage to the possible extent.
It indicates that healthcare practitioners should not cause any harm to their patients intentionally or unintentionally. This may seem obvious, yet it is a crucial principle to follow.
For example, if a patient is allergic to a drug, the healthcare professional should ensure they do not deliver that medication.
Instead, if a process involves possible dangers, the healthcare professional should take precautions to reduce such risks.
Let’s take another example. Suppose a patient is in critical condition and needs constant supervision. A health practitioner should not abandon the patient in that situation.
Non-maleficence is important in healthcare because it assures that healthcare practitioners take all necessary precautions to protect their patients.
Healthcare professionals must emphasize patient safety and take preventative measures.
In short, they must not take any actions that could cause pain or suffering to their patients.
Justice: Fairness in Resource Allocation
Justice is also one of the fundamental and complex principles of biomedical ethics. It implies that healthcare workers should distribute resources among their patients fairly and equally.
To understand the principle of justice, it’s important to know the two kinds of justice; distributive and social justice.
In distributive justice, individuals are treated equally regardless of their ethnic background, gender, culture, age, marital status, medical diagnosis, social standing, economic status, political or religious beliefs, or other characteristics.
As a result of social justice, everyone has an equal right to access and participate in all aspects of goods and services provided in a society, regardless of their individual characteristics.
For example, if a certain prescription is in low supply, healthcare practitioners should ensure that they distribute it equitably among patients who require it the most.
Also, if a certain location has limited healthcare resources, they should make efforts to guarantee that all patients have access to those resources.
In a nutshell, justice is critical to ensure that healthcare resources are distributed equitably and that patients have equitable access to medical treatment.
It supports ethical resource allocation and guarantees that patients are not discriminated against based on their socioeconomic background or race.
Fidelity: Trust and Loyalty
Fidelity is about developing trust and loyalty with patients. Healthcare practitioners should behave in the best interests of their patients and seek to build trust.
For example, if a patient has a medical problem, a healthcare professional should listen to their worries and offer sensible recommendations.
In addition, if a patient needs further assistance, a healthcare professional should collaborate with them to locate services that might assist.
Fidelity is essential in healthcare because it fosters confidence between professionals and patients.
Healthcare professionals must keep their promises to patients and deliver medical treatment under professional standards.
To summarize, fidelity is the principle of keeping promises and commitments. Healthcare providers must treat patients professionally and honor their obligations to them.
Veracity: Truthfulness in Communication
Veracity is the principle of truthfulness in healthcare. Healthcare providers are required to provide accurate and truthful information about patients’ medical conditions and treatment options.
For example, if a patient inquires about the dangers of a specific surgery, the healthcare professional must deliver accurate information, even if it is difficult to hear.
Instead, if a patient is scared about a prospective diagnosis, the healthcare professional should provide the patient with clear and honest information about what to expect.
The idea of veracity is important in healthcare because it encourages openness and honesty in patient-provider interactions.
Healthcare practitioners must give patients accurate and genuine information about their medical condition and treatment choices.
In essence, veracity is all about honesty and truthfulness. Healthcare practitioners should communicate openly and honestly with patients, offering correct information and sincerely addressing queries.
Confidentiality: Patient Privacy
Confidentiality is the principle of protecting patient information.
It refers to healthcare professionals’ commitment to keeping patient information secret unless the patient consents to disclose it.
For instance, if a patient shares sensitive information, healthcare professionals should keep it confidential.
If patients are concerned about their privacy, healthcare professionals should take precautions to secure their information.
One example of confidentiality is maintaining electronic health records securely.
Healthcare providers must use strong passwords and secure encryption to protect patient information from unauthorized access. It is also important that healthcare providers ensure that only allowed personnel can access patients’ information.
In short, confidentiality is all about building confidence between healthcare practitioners and patients.
Patients must have confidence in the security of their personal information, which encourages honesty and openness in patient-provider interaction.
Did You Know?
The seven principles of biomedical ethics were first introduced in the 1970s by a group of bioethicists known as the Belmont Report.
Healthcare researchers and professionals have adopted and used these principles across the globe as a framework for ethical decision-making.
So there you have it, the seven Principles of Biomedical Ethics – autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, fidelity, veracity, and confidentiality.
These principles are crucial for healthcare providers to deliver high-quality patient care and uphold the values of their profession.
But let’s face it, ethical dilemmas in healthcare can be complicated and tough to navigate.
How do healthcare providers balance competing values? And how do they make difficult decisions when resources are scarce?
Despite these challenges, healthcare providers can make a difference by putting their patients first, communicating honestly, and maintaining patient privacy.
By following these principles, they can stay true to the values of their profession and ensure that their patients receive the best possible care.