Medical Ethics Overview

Medical ethics is more than just a way of behaving for medical professionals. It’s actually the process of studying the moral problems that doctors have to deal with when treating real patients. Those decisions are important because they affect a person’s life and the quality of life for patients.

Issues in Medical Ethics

The issues faced in the medical field are quite serious. It deals with issues such as fertility and morality. Is artificial insemination religiously acceptable? Is it morally right to reduce the number of babies in the case of a multiple pregnancy? There are also issues surrounding the care of children. When should certain procedures be performed? Age is very important when dealing with children because their bodies are changing and growing. Making the wrong choice can hurt a child’s growth. Issues about abortion also fall into the category.

There are also issues pertaining to the death of a patient. Doctors have to consider a patient’s last wishes when it comes to comas. They have to be able to make moral decisions about brain death and they often have to prepare a family for the death of a loved one. Many are also charged with pain management for patients who are terminally ill and suffering. Organ transplants are also a touchy subject because organs are rare and valuable. Sometimes, doctors have to make a choice as to who should get an organ, even when the person doesn’t have a family.

Then there are issues relating to a patient’s care. Disabled patients’; wishes have to be taken into consideration but their actual capacity to decide has to be considered too. The care of older patients is also a concern. The medical ethics field is quite large and complex so even the best doctors can sometimes make mistakes.

Culture, Religion & Medical Ethics

Religion also plays a part in medical ethics. There are many religions that don’t allow abortions or allow people to be taken off life support. Birth rites often vary from culture to culture. For instance, Jewish babies are circumcised and Islamic babies have prayers whispered in their ears. Death rites can be different as well. Those who believe in smaller, less well-known religions have to be consulted on almost any treatment.

Medical Ethics Codes and Policies

There are set medical ethical codes and policies that doctors have to follow. Without them, doctors would have no guide and no idea how to conduct themselves in tense situations. Many doctor’s offices and hospitals may also have their own individual codes. It’s very important that doctors follow these codes so that they do not harm a patient or accidentally cause their death.

Medical Law

The medical and legal fields often overlap. There are many laws relating specifically to a doctor’s conduct. Doctors are required to follow these laws. If they fail, they may be tried in a legal case or a civil case. There are some gray areas so doctors often need a lawyer’s help to navigate when it comes to the ethics issues. One of the most recent ways the medical world and law world have intersected has been on the subject of whether medical marijuana should be legal or not.