Ethics and Research in Professional Contexts
Ethics and research in professional contexts aim at providing a series through that we understand medical ethics and its application. The medical practitioners gain knowledge on the principal strands of ethical thought. Also, they are in a position to apply the principal strands during the ethical dilemmas in the course of their duties and how best they can provide a solution to such cases. Medical ethics considers the guidelines under which the medical officers carry on their medical duties. Professional Ethics has been defined as ethical values, principles and norms that guide the medical officers in making professional decisions (Vertrees 2012). The ethical body of knowledge lies in the following concepts; utilitarianism, autonomy, deontology, confidentiality. It also includes human rights, informed consent and the principal approach to the medical ethics together with their application to other concepts.
The essay will be based on the following scenario. Mr. C is a 70-year old man who suffers from severe dementia and also has long lasting lung disease. He is cared for by his 72-year-old wife. He frequently has chest infections for which he receives antibiotics, and he requires oxygen at home because of his lung infection. Recently his chest infection did not respond well to the antibiotic tablets and his general condition is deteriorating. He is not eating and is drinking very little. It is possible with hospital treatment, including intravenous antibiotics and physiotherapy he may recover although he is bound to develop a similar infection in the near future. However, previous admission to the hospital has left Mr. C distressed and cannot cope well with changing environment and refuses to go into hospital. On the other hand, Mrs. C thinks that he should go to the hospital so Mr. C can be given maximum treatment.
The above scenario raises various ethical dilemmas. An ethical dilemma occurs when it is not clear on what actions an individual should take. Ethical dilemma is a conflict between rights that seems incapable of a satisfactory solution (Brecher 2014). The first dilemma concerns the reality that Mr. C is sick, and a sick person requires going the hospital to get medical care for treatment. However, Mr. C cannot cope with the changing environment and is refusing to go to the hospital. The second dilemma is faced by the person responsible for taking care of Mr. C. as the caretaker Mrs. c is of the view that Mr. C should go to the hospital. She believes that Mr. C will receive better care in the hospital, and his condition will be better. The other ethical dilemma in the above case is between the parties involved and the law. In this case, Mr. c human rights and the mental capacity cause the third dilemma (Strachan 2004). The Mr. c human rights will need to be considered while making the right decision for Mr. C. according to the analysis of the dilemmas it is evident that each of the persons involves perceiving the situation differently. Mrs. C in her position is obliged to take care of her husband. On the other hand, Mr. C is a mature person and has the right over her health decisions. It means that to solve the scenario it will require that ethical considerations be made. In considering other people’s perception, they may take varying position in the support of the matter. People might agree with Mr. C and respect his decision in refusing to go to the hospital and the treatment. On the other hand, others might agree with Mrs. C as the caretaker and wife to Mr. C that he should go to the hospital to receive better treatment.
In the scenario, there are different people involved. As identified above different people might have different opinions in relation to the matter. The first two persons that are involved are Mr. C, and Mrs. C., As identified above the two, have varying opinions on the issue of Mr. c health. Mrs. C supports treatment while Mr. C is against the treatment. The other people that may be involved in the issue are the family members. Different family members will have different opinions on the issue. Assuming Mr. C and Mrs. C had children. The children are more likely to support the opinion of talking Mr. C to the hospital. Patient’s perception of an ethical dilemma is usually based on the feelings and beliefs. As in the scenario, Mr. C does not want to go to the hospital for treatment. It is because according to him going for treatment has not improved his condition. The general public comprises of different people who have different personality, beliefs, and ethnicity. However, if we could generalize the situation, the general public could have advised Mr. C to be taken to hospital for better treatment. Pressure groups vary depending on the motive of the group. If the pressure group fights for human rights, it could perceive the ethical dilemma in various ways (Bradley 2012). In the above scenario, a pressure group is likely to pressurize on Mr. C being treated at home since changing environment is not good for him. Considering the position of the health workers in relation to the dilemma, they are likely to make the following decision. Te medical officers are obliged to ensure the health to the patients and doing their best to keep the patient alive. The medical officers will advocate that Mr. C be taken to hospital for better treatment.
The conflicts that may arise, in this case, include the following. The disagreement on whether Mr. C should be taken to hospital or not as Mrs. C insists that he should be treated. The other conflict is whether the medical officer will treat Mr. C irrespective of whether he wants or not. There are various ethical approaches or arguments to solving the medical conflicts or dilemmas like in this scenario. The first argument is based on the utilitarianism. The utilitarian approach perceives that the end justifies the means (Soboljew 2012). The resulting consequences determine the moral worth of the action. The approach considers a balance between the benefits and harms of the action taken. In this case, we ought to balance the benefits and the harms associated with the course action taken. If the case benefits outweigh the actual harms to any of the parties of the scenario, then the action can be justified. The approach to any action involves the following principles. The autonomy perception is that Mr. C has the right to independence and freedom. Mr. C has the right to make decisions about his health. He has the right to decide whether to go to a hospital or not. The rights are personal without the influence of the family or the health care provider. The other principle concerns beneficence, it states the following. All the health practitioners ought to be ethical in the performance of their duties (Rees 2010). The medical practitioners have the moral imperative of making the right choice on the patient’s health. In this case, the professional-client relationship states that the medical officer must respect the patient’s decision and allow Mr. C to refuse treatment. It means that the medical officer cannot force Mr. C to undergo the treatment. The principals so far have identified that Mr. C has the supreme power over his or her health. The utilitarian ethical argument continues to analyze the situation or the dilemma using the third principal that is known as non-malfeasance. According to the utilitarian’s basing on the non-malfeasance, all individuals should not act in ways that cause harm to others. In this case, Mrs. C should not force Mr. C to be taken into hospital. Forcing him to go to the hospital and be admitted there can cause harm. The harms or problems to Mr. C are to be considered in the fact that Mr. C becomes distress in hospitals and cannot cope with the changing environment. The principal does not only touch on Mrs. C position but also considers the positions that are likely to be taken by other persons. In this case, the medical officer ought to respect Mr. C opinion. The fourth principal according to the utilitarian argument is justice; it states that all patients ought to be treated equally.
The utilitarian’s perception can be explained in the following way. Based on the four principals as identified above and as the supports for the utilitarian’s argument it can be explained as follows. Mr. c wishes of not willing to undergo through treatment ought to be respected. Respecting Mr. C wish will mean that his autonomy will have been considered and respected. Mr. C owns assessment of the benefits of being treated based on the previous cases leads him to conclude that his condition will not get better. For this reason, he argues that the decision, of, not going through with any treatment, outweighs the benefits that that he may derive from being treated (Brennan 2012). According to Mr. C going to the hospital has led to the deterioration of his conditions. For this reason, he can say that going for the treatment is harmful than staying at home. Thus, without the contravening perception of Mrs. C, the medical officer or any other person Mr. c, it is legally right for Mr. C to refuse treatment. However, the utilitarian argument has drawbacks. The drawbacks can be explained as follows. Duties and obligations are difficult to quantify, and more so they are difficult to partition (McDermott 2005). For this reason, they cannot be determined by empirical data, for example, assuming Mr. C decided to be treated without going to the hospital. It would be difficult to quantify the action. In this case, the duties of the medical officer in relation to the matter it is difficult to assess how his ability to discharge his duty to convince Mr. C of the importance of going to the hospital.
Other peoples, in this case, perceive that Mrs. C is right that Mr. C should be treated. Such people’s argument is based on the deontology ethical perception. Deontology is a normative ethical position that judges the morality of the action carried out on the adherence to the duties. It bases the morality perception on how the action on how the action was performed in accordance the rule of rules. It is a rule -based ethics because it bounds the action taken to his or her duty. The deontology approach has the following facts associated with its performance. It insists on the action always taking do the right thing. The argument is that, doing the right thing is the right thing is the right thing to do (McColgan 2012). Then the other fact states that one should not do wrong things. In this case supporting Mr. c facts is a bad thing to do, and it is wrong. The deontology approach states that Mrs. C could be doing the right thing by taking Mr. C to hospital. It is because it is a fact that Mr. C will be treated in the hospital, and there are chances that his disease may be healed. It would not be wrong to force Mr. C to be taken to hospital because this is considered as morally right. At the hospital, Mr. C will be well attended by the health officers (Lysaght 2013). It is clear that deontology perception is that people should always act morally right. It is because at the hospital Mr. C will receive maximum treatment. According to the deontology argument, people should always act morally right. Thus, according to deontologists Mrs. C should take Mr. C to the hospital for better treatment. According to the two arguments that have been discussed in relation to the scenario my view is that deontology has the convincing argument. Eventually, the arguments within the two major arguments supersede each other. Initially, it appears best to respect Mr. c decision of, not been treated. However, the conclusion based on the facts of both arguments, it is best to take Mr. C to the hospital for maximum treatment.
People responses to ethical dilemmas do vary between one person and another. Among the factors that influence how people respond to ethical dilemmas include the following, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, and sexuality. Gender has been defined as the state of being a male or a female. Men and women vary in physical characteristics such as sex organs and body structures among others. Other differences between men and women are on their characters and perceptions. For example, women are said to be more nurturing than men. For this reason, women are more emotional than men. Women are, for this reason, in a position to make decisions on the ethical dilemma based on their emotional characteristics. Men, on the other hand, are perceived as people who are strong and less emotional. For this reason, men tend to assume many things. in this case, the difference in the dilemma responses may be emotional or based on facts. However, we cannot generalize and say that all women make decisions based on their emotions and men since they are less emotional likely to make the best decision. Gender influences ethical dilemma based on the attributes of the decision maker. Women are more merciful than men. A woman will make an ethical dilemma decision on the perception of helping the person without considering more issues (Masic et al. 2014). Men, on the other hand, will take time to reason out a dilemma and in the end the decision may be incorrect. Ethnicity is another factor that influences ethical dilemma. Ethnicity is the identity of a person with a particular grouping based on such attributes as culture, race, and religion among others. Ethnicity influences ethical dilemma in the following way. In this case, a person ethnic beliefs influence the response to ethical; dilemma. For example, there are ethnic groups that belief in traditional forms of medication. In this case, the people of that ethnic group will not consider the option of taking the patient to the hospital, even though; his or her conditions are deteriorating (Clisham 2005). The other aspect of ethnicity is culture; the culture of a certain ethnic group influences the response to the ethical dilemma. For example, in Africa there are some ethnic groups does not take women to the hospital for maternity services. In such a scenario where a woman condition is deteriorating and needs a hospital treatment, people in that place will be reluctant to take her to the hospital. Ethnicity influences ethical dilemma based on the religion beliefs, cultural beliefs and practices of others. The ethnicity attributes tend to challenge the ethical considerations surrounding the ethical dilemma.
The other aspect that influences ethical dilemma is the religion of the persons who have engaged in an ethical dilemma. Various people have varying ethical beliefs and considerations. In this case, the ethical facts and arguments conflict with the religious beliefs. For example, a patient who is a follower of Jehovah witness and happened to be in an accident. The patient has lost a lot of blood, and the doctors suggest that for him to survive he has to have a blood transfusion. In that case, the patient will refuse the blood transfusion because his religious beliefs are against blood transfusion (Campbell et al. 2013). Thus, it is true that religion influences response to the ethical dilemma. For example, there are religions that do not allow a patient to go to the hospital for the treatment. On the other hand, there are religious beliefs that support the concept of hospital treatment. In that, they will be very fast in making a decision that relate to the going for further treatment. Let’s consider an example, a member of a Roman Catholic as his religion. Such a person has inhabited a universe of meaning as well as a religious community extended in time and space. The person is in faith hence; he has to show it actively through his actions, motive or image. The attributes such as professed faith, baptism and allegiance to Jesus Christ determines the person approach to ethical issues and ethical dilemma.
Relevant codes of professional conduct and law are applied to the ethical dilemma to help in arriving at a moral situation. The following are the ethical codes of professional conduct and law and how they are applied. The ethical codes of conduct will be explained with the help of various examples. Consider the ethical dilemma involving a minor as an example. An ethical dilemma may arise with a minor patient; assuming the dilemma is between the medical officer and the guardians of the minor. In such a case, the doctor has the right to choose for the ‘minor’ what according to his knowledge is the best medical decision (English et al. 2013). The decision made is based on particular circumstances surrounding the ‘minor’. In such a case, the doctor applies the ethical code or principal known as paternalism. The principal assumes that the ‘doctor knows best’. However, in the present the doctor is allowed to practice the principal in minors. In the case of mature patients, the doctors apply a different code of conduct. The doctor is expected to have a mutual agreement with the patient on how the patient will be treated (Kabasenche 2011). For example, in the case of surgery the doctor ought to explain to the patient the current status and the procedure that the patient will have to undergo. Ethical revolutions and evolutions have brought the concept of autonomy, confidentiality, and informed consent. In the example mentioned earlier, the final decision for treatment of a patient will need to be agreed upon by the patient and the doctor. Only in such circumstances where the patient is in emergency state and it will not be possible to contact any member related to the patient that the doctor can apply the principle of paternalism (Lachmann 2013). The other code of conduct is known as imperative principal. It is a medical situation by what, the medical officers are supposed to focus on the outcomes of the actions they take. Hence, it is an important concept of the ethical dilemma where the medical officer is expected to evaluate the outcomes of each and every decision likely to be made in that dilemma and then choose the best. The other professional ethical code involves confidentiality. A medical officer is supposed to uphold confidentiality in relation to the patient’s health.
In conclusion, the paper has discussed various concepts in relation to the context of professional ethical conduct. The paper has used a case scenario where there are ethical dilemmas. Various arguments such as utilitarian and deontology have discussed their positions in relation to the issue. The paper has identified all people require ethical considerations while making ethical decisions. In the case, of medical officers it is required that they consider various codes of conduct in relation to their profession while making decisions. The patients are also supposed to observe ethics while making decisions or taking actions relating to their health. Other personnel such as guardians, family members, and friends are also a part of ethical solution to ethical dilemmas and are required to consider the situation ethically. There are various changes taking place in the field of medicine and the human rights. Medical officers are required to be aware of the changes. For example, the principal of informed consent is medical changes that have occurred over time.
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