What is Health Care Morality?

Health care morality refers to the ethical standards upheld in healthcare settings. With numerous relationships and responsibilities within this industry comes many ethical dilemmas; healthcare professionals must find ways to balance patient needs against institutional concerns while remaining economical and accessible for wider community needs.

Historically, medical ethics focused on the doctor-patient relationship and physician responsibilities towards each patient. But today’s health care environment is much more complex. Most doctors manage multiple patients while serving on larger health care teams; plus they must consider social, political, and cultural concerns within their communities that need addressing; thus creating additional ethical considerations than simply considering “one doctor, one patient.”

Health care institutions typically develop their own set of ethical principles and guidelines for their healthcare professionals who work there, drawing inspiration from different ethical theories such as utilitarianism, natural law, egoism and categorical imperative. These concepts further support key ethical tenets of health care such as Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence and Justice.

Respect for autonomy is a core value, affirming a patient’s right to make choices that impact his or her own wellbeing freely and make decisions without coercion from medical professionals. Self-determination allows patients the right to choose how best to manage their health based on complete information disclosure from health care providers; this also follows Hippocratic Oath principles by encouraging patients “First do no harm”.

Beneficence is another crucial health care concept that encourages physicians to promote patients’ overall well-being. This may involve activities such as providing appropriate treatments and not providing unnecessary ones; as well as informing and educating patients regarding all available choices and risks.

Non-maleficence, or the duty not to harm, is one of the foundational concepts in medicine and often expressed through Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm”. Additionally, non-maleficence includes not subjecting people to unnecessary risk or using medical technologies with high side effect risks.

Justice refers to how healthcare resources should be distributed among various members of society. It acknowledges that some individuals may have less in terms of wealth, education and health; furthermore it advocates for those needing special assistance.

Ethical considerations in healthcare settings are always vitally important; yet modern medicine makes it even harder to define what constitutes medical necessity and what does not. While our current system of vested interests and lobby groups may be difficult to change overnight, it is still possible to redirect the current system in a manner more conducive to ethically responsible alternatives by engaging with multiple healthcare professionals–from students and educators all the way up through experienced practitioners.

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