Ethical Imperatives in Healthcare

Healthcare professionals need to follow and maintain their professional ethics while introducing new and innovative healthcare techniques and treatment processes into healthcare in terms of improving the care outcomes of patients (De Andrade, Almeida & Pinho-Reis, 2017). While it comes to implement new technologies and healthcare treatment into the practice, healthcare professionals must consider the four important bioethical principles such as patient’s autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. This study will present a range of argumentative statements on healthcare ethics for justifying the importance of maintaining professional ethics in healthcare for effective implementation of the new healthcare technologies and treatment process. While presenting the argumentative discussion, this study will present different ethical theories such as utilitarian thinking, demonological thinking, virtue ethics thinking, ethics of care thinking and natural law. Finally, this study will draw a conclusion in which the main aspects of this discussion will be presented.

NMBA (nursing and midwifery board of Australia) suggested that healthcare professionals are obliged to maintain all the bioethical principles into practice while going to introduce any new technology or treatment to improve patients health (AbuAbah et al. 2019). Patient’s autonomy is one of the most important bioethical principles that healthcare professionals must consider while implementing new healthcare technologies or treatment for any patient. As mentioned by Baksheev et al. (2018), patients’ autonomy can be defined as the most important ethical aspect in healthcare in which healthcare professionals respect and consider the personal preference, choices for tenement and desire of any patient regarding any aspect related to the treatment and care process. NMBA (2019) mentioned that, in the modern healthcare context, healthcare professionals have to deal with complex health needs of patients in which it is important to use modern and new healthcare technology to fasten the overall care delivery and improves the quality of care (Garrafa, Da Cunha & Manchola, 2018). While ging for new technologies and treatment on meeting complex health needs of paints, healthcare professionals must support and consider the patient’s autonomy regarding taking the new treatment.


Another important bioethical principle that healthcare professionals need to consider while introducing new healthcare processes and technologies into practice is beneficence (Cambra-Badii, Pinar & Baños, 2021). NMBA (2019) mentioned that beneficence can be defined as the intention for achieving the best healthcare outcomes for patients. While using the new treatment process and modern technologies to deal with the complex health needs of patients, healthcare professionals must ensure that the new healthcare technologies will be relevant to the current health condition of the patient. As argued by Córdoba et al. (2020), new healthcare technologies may not be suitable for promoting the patient’s beneficence if there are factors that pose barriers in this context to achieve the best possible care outcomes for patients. These factors are the poor training and professional knowledge of healthcare staff regarding the new treatment process. Lack of skill of the old healthcare staff in operating the new technologies, lack of cooperation from patients to receive new treatment and lack of infrastructure in maintaining the sustainability of the treatment.

Non-maleficence is another most important bioethical principle in healthcare that every healthcare professional need to consider while using new technologies and treatment for improving patient’s satisfaction (Bruce et al. 2019).). In this context Graf, Epstein & Pearl. (2020) stated that non-maleficence can be defined as the healthcare ethics that pose obligations on the heartcare professionals to avoid any kind of action that can cause harm to patients or other healthcare providers. As mentioned by Fonseca & Caeiro. (2021) While using new healthcare technologies, the healthcare professional must ensure patients safety throughout the care delivery. In this context, healthcare professionals must ensure that they have proper professional knowledge and skills in operating the new healthcare technology and providing innovative treatment that will not interfere with the safety of patients.

Justice in healthcare is important to be considered, especially while it comes to the use of new technologies and the modern treatment process. NMBA defines that, justice in healthcare can be defined as the process of promoting fairness, equality and transparency in the care delivery to patients (Glover et al. 2020). Healthcare professionals must ensure that while introducing new ad modern healthcare technologies and treatment processes, it will be used for all the patients with complex health conditions irrespective of their ethnicity, caste, race, religion and economic standard. On the contrary Antommaria et al. (2020) argued that, while using the new healthcare technologies for achieving the best possible care outcomes for patients, it is not all-time possible for healthcare professionals to use these technologies for all the patients rather they use specialised care only for those patients whose health conditions are highly complex and can not be cured through existing and conventional treatment.

Different ethical perspectives are presented many times regarding considering patients autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence to improve the quality of the healthcare process (Sholla et al. 2017). Utilitarian thinking or Utilitarianism justifies and supports the actions that are done to promote the maximum wellbeing and happiness of all the affected individuals. Utilitarianism is based on the five major aspects in the healthcare setting such as maximisation, wellbeing, impartiality and equality of moral status, aggregation and consequentialism (AbuAbah et al. 2019). Critics argued that, although the utilitarianism viewpoint supports equal care delivery and happiness for all the affected persons in the healthcare, it hardly can be applied to present patient autonomy. This is because, in the case of maintaining patients’ autonomy, the personalised preferences, choices for treatment and individualised desire of a patient is considered in terms of applying any new treatment rather than focusing on the welfare or maximise the wellbeing of the entire patient community. As argued by De Andrade, Almeida & Pinho-Reis (2017), the utilitarianism viewpoint although is criticised in terms of maintaining patient’ autonomy in the healthcare context, in case of promoting the other bioethical principles such as beneficence, non-maleficence and justices this viewpoint is highly applicable. Utilitarianism enables healthcare professionals to view the maximum well-being of all the patients while implementing new technologies and treatments.

On the contrary Baksheev et al. (2018), deontological thinking is based on the fact that healthcare professions must go with the healthcare rules regulations in terms of maintaining all the bioethical principles into practice. Based on this ethical theory, healthcare professions must ensure that to comply with all the health and social care policies while implementing new treatment for promoting the best possible care outcomes for patients. As argued by Cambra-Badii, Pinar & Baños (2021), the major drawback of the deontological viewpoint is that it opposes the consideration of different consequences in the healthcare context, which can interfere with the ability of healthcare professionals in evaluating the relevance of new technologies and treatment for meeting patients’ health needs. While meeting patients’ autonomy, healthcare professionals need to consider the consequences of the previous and existing treatment process of a patient in terms of determining which new trichology or innovative treatment process will be the best fit according to the patient’s choice as well as patients’ health condition (Córdoba et al. 2020).

Ethics of care thinking is another potential ethical theory, that can be applied in relation to maintaining all the bioethical principles while implementing new healthcare technologies into practice (Fonseca & Caeiro., 2021). Based on the perspectives of ethics of care thinking, while using new technologies in healthcare, healthcare professionals must consult the benefits, operative process and the possible outcomes of these technologies or treatment with patients by using an empathetic and benevolent approach. As argued by Bruce et al. (2019), this perspective is irrelevant in the case of patients who are mentally ill or not having the capacity of understanding any right or wrong with the treatment that is going to be applied to them. In this context, Glover et al. (2020) argued that Ethics of care thinking enables healthcare professionals to maintain clear and sufficient dialogues with patients which will not only assist the patients to understand the needs and benefits of the new healthcare technologies but also help the healthcare professionals to understand the choices for treatment, patient’s perspectives, patients personalised health needs and the current health complication of patients. His dialogue with patients is important for healthcare professionals to promote beneficence, equality, proper justice and preserve patients’ autonomy throughout the care delivery by using the new healthcare technologies.

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Natural law is another ethical theory that makes it obligatory for healthcare professionals to follow the universal and moral healthcare norm to maximise positive healthcare outcomes for patients. As argued by Antommaria et al. (2020), in this modern healthcare field, to meet various kinds of personalised health needs of patients it is not possible for healthcare professionals in many times to follow the universal ad moral norms. For example, equality in healthcare cannot be maintained by healthcare professionals while using new technologies ad innovative treatment processes for a particular patient who suffers from a complex health condition that can not be cured by conventional healthcare technologies.

From the abovementioned discussions, it can be concluded that, while using new healthcare technologies or treatments, healthcare professionals must ensure that they maintain all the bioethical principles in the healthcare practice. Through maintaining all the bioethical practices such as justice, beneficence, non-maleficence ad patients’ autonomy, a healthcare professional can maintain professional accountability and professional integrity. Different ethical theories are presented at different times to discuss the implementation of bioethics into practice. However, healthcare professionals must ensure that they must apply the best suited ethical theory which will enable them, to meet all the personalised needs of each patient by implementing all the abovementioned bioethical principles to promote the best possible care outcomes.

Reference list:

AbuAbah, F., Alwan, A., Al-Jahdali, Y., Al Shaikh, A., Alharbi, A., & Hamdan, A. J. (2019). Common medical ethical issues faced by healthcare professionals in KSA. Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, 14(5), 412-417.

Antommaria, A. H. M., Feudtner, C., Benner, M. B., Cohn, F., & Healthcare Ethics Consultant Certification Commission. (2020). The Healthcare ethics consultant-certified program: Fair, feasible, and defensible, but neither definitive nor finished.

Baksheev, A. I., Nozdrin, D. A., Turchina, Z. E., Sharova, O. Y., Rakhinskiy, D. V., & Yurchuk, G. V. (2018). Bioethical principles and mechanisms for regulation of biomedical research. Journal of pharmaceutical sciences and research, 10(4), 889-892.

Bruce, C. R., Feudtner, C., Davis, D., Benner, M. B., & Felicia Cohn for the Healthcare Ethics Consultant Certification Commission. (2019). Developing, administering, and scoring the healthcare ethics consultant certification examination. Hastings Center Report, 49(5), 15-22.

Cambra-Badii, I., Pinar, A., & Baños, J. E. (2021). The Good Doctor and bioethical principles: A content analysis. Educación Médica, 22(2), 84-88.

Córdoba, A., Mejía, L. F., Mannis, M. J., Navas, A., Madrigal-Bustamante, J. A., & Graue-Hernandez, E. O. (2020). Current global bioethical dilemmas in corneal transplantation. Cornea, 39(4), 529-533.

De Andrade, J. S., Almeida, M. M., & Pinho-Reis, C. (2017). Bioethical principles and nutrition in palliative care. Acta Portuguesa de Nutrição, (9), 12-16.

Fonseca, V., & Caeiro, J. (2021). Bioethics and healthcare policies. The benefit of using genetic tests of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 in elderly patients. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 36(1), 18-29.

Garrafa, V., Da Cunha, T. R., & Manchola, C. (2018). Access to healthcare: a central question within Brazilian bioethics. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 27(3), 431-439.

Glover, A. C., Cunningham, T. V., Sterling, E. W., & Lesandrini, J. (2020). How much volume should healthcare ethics consult services have. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 31(2), 2-16.

Graf, W. D., Epstein, L. G., & Pearl, P. L. (2020). Practical bioethics during the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic. Pediatric neurology, 108, 3.

Sholla, S., Naaz, R., & Chishti, M. A. (2017, July). Incorporating ethics in Internet of Things (IoT) enabled connected smart healthcare. In 2017 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Connected Health: Applications, Systems and Engineering Technologies (CHASE) (pp. 262-263). IEEE.

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