Ethics of Healthcare

Anyone navigating the process of getting health care can face many choices that can feel overwhelming, and the options can have a variety of ramifications. Health care providers usually have the advantage of having a better understanding of medical procedures and treatments, and patients often look to health care providers for information and education. Medical practitioners are bound by the principles of health care ethics as they strive to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to patients. Understanding health care ethics can help patients ensure that they receive the best care, and it is vital for those working in the health care industry to incorporate ethical practices into their procedures.

What Are the Ethics of Health Care?

Health care ethics involves four basic principles. First, patients have the right to retain control over themselves and make autonomous decisions. Health care providers can inform and advise, but coercion to make a specific decision would violate medical ethics. Patients have the right to make independent decisions about their health care, even if these decisions are contrary to physicians' beliefs. Health care providers also must provide care that benefits each individual patient. Using the greatest skills and knowledge possible, professionals must treat each patient uniquely to benefit that patient. The "do no harm" principle illustrates the final goal of every case. In the end, the medical practitioners must consider the entire situation, which includes more than just the individual patient. Medical care should not involve practices that cause harm to other people or society as a whole. Medical care must also involve justice in medical decisions. Physicians must uphold all applicable laws, and medical decisions must involve an equal distribution of any new treatments or scarce medical resources, regardless of economics.

Nursing practices must also meet ethical standards as they work within their profession. Nurses serve in a variety of capacities, including direct patient care, research, education, and administration. Affording dignity to patients and their families regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, or socio-economic class is at the crux of nursing ethics. Privacy and confidentiality are also crucial components of ethical and efficient care.

Holistic Health Care

Holistic health care focuses on both body and mind to maintain health. Holistic practitioners often serve as active participants of a healthy lifestyle, assisting patients with reaching and maintaining the highest level of wellness possible. This type of health care may use both modern medicine of the Western Hemisphere and traditional practices that originated in the Eastern Hemisphere. With the premise that optimal health depends on the wellness of every part of a person, a holistic medical professional's ethics require them to take a comprehensive approach to help a patient achieve optimal health. A holistic practitioner may use pharmaceutical treatments or even surgical intervention to assist patients. But the practitioner will also examine them more extensively to discover any underlying causes of a malady. Homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy, and massage therapy are a few examples of alternative treatments that may be a part of holistic health care. Personal responsibility for overall wellness rests with each patient according to the tenets of this type of medical practice.

Patients' Bill of Rights

The Patients' Bill of Rights was adopted in 1998 as a way to protect patients seeking health care. This legislation has three main goals. The first goal involves helping patients feel confident in the United States health care system by making the system fair and comprehensive. Patients have methods of addressing problems, and patients play an active role in taking care of their health. The second goal of the bill of rights is creating a strong alliance between health care providers and patients. The final goal addresses the rights and responsibilities of both patients and health care providers. Patients have the right to receive information they can understand about their health plans, physicians, and health care facilities. Patients also have the ability to choose where they receive care, and they have the right to emergency services when necessary. Confidentiality of health information is provided for every patient, and patients have options for having their complaints heard and addressed, when applicable.