Health ethics plays an important role in public health. It is a field of applied ethics in form of expressing health concerns by the government on problems like obesity, excessive drinking and smoking.
Expressing these concerns and interfering with people’s choices may sometimes mean that certain amount of freedom will be restricted to people, but it is all for the general well being of the society and their betterment.
Understanding Health Ethics
Health ethics covers a wide range of topics. Essentially, health ethics is all about providing a right kind of treatment to every human being. Health ethics does not deal with a particular person; it rather covers the entire community. The main postulate of health ethics is that every human being deserves equal dignity and respect and should be treated rightly when seeking medical help.
Health ethics is there to ensure that doctors do not discriminate patients based on their age, race, color or gender. Moreover, health ethics are concerned about privacy issues, as it requires that confidential information of patients should not be leaking to the third parties. Health ethics also demands that healthcare providers follow the Hippocratic Oath that they take when entering the medical field.
Principles of health ethics
Health ethics is based on a couple of equally important principles. These principles, or values, provide a behavioral framework for understanding conflicts and dealing with them. The principle value of health ethics is the value of autonomy, which states that the patient has the right to refuse or choose their treatment.
Beneficence is the second most important principle, stating that a practitioner should act in the best interest of the patient. Non-malfeasence is a principle that can be best described in a statement: given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.
The principle of justice concerns about the distribution of scarce health resources, and the decision of who gets what treatment. Dignity is the principle that claims the patients (and the person treating the patient) have the right to dignity. Truthfulness and honesty are dealing with informed consent, requiring that the consent a person gives meets certain minimum standards.
For example, this principle requires taking into concern factors such as basic intellectual or emotional immaturity, high levels of stress such as PTSD or as severe mental retardation, severe mental illness, intoxication, severe sleep deprivation, Alzheimer's disease, or being in a coma. However, if a seriously wounded individual is brought to a hospital in an unconscious state and no one is accessible to give informed consent, doctors will give whatever treatment is necessary to save their life.
Concerns of Health Ethics
Health ethics studies the causes and effects of an initiative that is taken to prevent some illnesses. Health ethics deals with the society at large, treating and preventing illnesses. Moreover, health ethics deals with topics like euthanasia, genetic modifications, in-vitro fertilization and many other matters.