Principles of Medical Ethics

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Basic Biomedical Principles. Principle of Beneficence. Act to benefit others. Principle of Autonomy. Worth and dignity of all persons. Right to self-determination and moral obligation to protect others with impaired autonomy. ID: 776659 Download Presentation

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Principles of Medical Ethics

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Principles of Medical Ethics


Basic Biomedical Principles

Principle of Beneficence

Act to benefit others

Principle of Autonomy

Worth and dignity of all persons

Right to self-determination and moral obligation to protect others with impaired autonomy

Principle of Non-Maleficence

Act to avoid harm

Principle of Justice

Act to distribute benefits and burdens of society fairly



To do or promote good for the patient

The bedrock of all heath care ethics, requiring the HCP act in the best interest of the patient

However, which practices do in fact help patients?



Individual choice, freedom of the will…

Respect for persons

A patient has a right to refuse or choose their treatment

Respect individuals as self-determining agents

We assist people with making decisions consistent with/to their own values

When an adult’s autonomy is limited or impaired, we provide the necessary supports and protections to assist individuals with meeting their present or previously held values as much as possible

If the patient’s values are unknown, the HCP to the best of his/her ability acts in the person’s best interest


Advanced Directives

Go into effect if physician determines that


lacks the ability (capacity) to make own health care decisions

Living Will – written request to forgo certain treatments in the event of a TERMINAL or IRREVERSABLE condition.

Medical determination must be made that you have no reasonable possibility of regaining consciousness or decision-making capability

Does not apply if you are able or will be able to speak for yourself

Does not give permission for physician to withdraw nutrition or hydration if you are permanently unconscious unless indicated on living will

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – document that appoints another person to be the health care agent

This person makes any necessary health care decisions for you



“First, do no harm”

Must balance not harming a patient with the belief of doing them good

Treatments believed to do good may result in harm

Important to know how likely it is that a treatment will harm a patient

Double effect: non-maleficence + beneficence

Two types of consequences that may be produced by a single action



Demands that we act fairly when dealing with patients

We are required to:

Seek an equitable relationship between risk and benefits

Create a fair distribution of the goods of health care


Do you agree with these principles?


Decision Making


Interpreting the Ethical Decision-Making Model

Medical indications and patient preferences are considered to be higher priority

Usually these are the basis on which medical and ethical decisions are made

When these are clear, ethical conflicts rarely arise: A competent adult almost universally has the right to accept or refuse a proposed recommendation

However, more often, in ethical conflicts, the medical diagnosis or prognosis and/or patient preferences are unclear or unknown.






Stroke Case Study

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