Ethical Issues in Healthcare Definition and Examples

Ethical Issues in Healthcare: Definition and Examples

Every day healthcare patients, their families, and professionals face ethical issues. Thus at this point, when nearly a quarter of the world is in the hospitals, it is essential to know the ethical issues in healthcare. These dilemmas focus on medical treatments, practices, hospital management, and other critical matters in the health care industry. Thus if you have to make an assignment for the same topic, then you can seek Nursing Assignment Help from our experts or directly go through this guide.  

Ethical issues in healthcare require an immediate response, like making decisions for patients or questions related to assisted suicide. Also, several debates need you to have an in-depth knowledge of these ethical codes in healthcare. So let’s move ahead to see what we are going to discuss in this section today.

  • What are Ethical Issues in Healthcare?
  • 5 Common Ethical Challenges in Healthcare Industry
  • Ethical Practices in Modern Medicine

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Before moving ahead, let’s know what we mean by ethical issues.

What are Ethical Issues in Healthcare?

High ethical standards are necessary for the healthcare industry. It is the responsibility of professionals to hold themselves to the highest medical ethics standards. Ethical issues are the challenges faced by medical staff, patients, or their families while during the treatment. It includes some critical decisions that sometimes taken by patients, their family members, or doctors for the betterment of the patient. Quiet difficult to understand? Well, don’t worry. Let’s understand it with an example.

Suppose a person is suffering from enormous pain due to a lifetime ailment. So he is requesting doctors for assisted suicide. As he can never recover from the disease, he doesn’t want to be a burden on his family.

Furthermore, according to doctors Oath, “It is their primary duty to save lives.” But it is absurd to see the patient in such pain from which he can never recover. Thus in this situation, what doctors should do? Should they help the patient in assisted suicide or let him suffer through the pain?

Therefore these are some ethical issues in healthcare that doctors, patients, and their families have to face. It is only moral codes or principles which tell us what to do in such situations.

Healthcare Ethical Principles

There are four healthcare ethical principles, especially in nursing developed by Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, two medical practitioners.

Autonomy: Specify the wishes of the patient to protect their autonomy

Justice: Follow the guidelines and treat patients alike

Beneficence: Seek patients’ best interest

Non-maleficence: what harms are avoidable

These principals can help professionals to identify ethical issues in healthcare. If you are looking for a nursing degree or hoping to become a physician in the future, then you must know these healthcare ethical principles. Now let’s learn about these ethical challenges in depth.

5 Common Ethical Challenges in Healthcare Industry

There are numerous ethical challenges faced by healthcare professionals, as mentioned below:

Patience Privacy and Confidentiality

According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, “Violating patient’s confidentiality can have legal and ethical consequences for healthcare providers.” So a healthcare practitioner can be suspended if he or she discloses information of the patient.

But suppose your patient gets a cut while attempting a murder? Then what will you do? Will law punish you for disclosing the information about that patient? Thus there can be the release of information under some specific conditions. HIPAA defines what information of the patients can be revealed and whom to.

Transmission of Diseases

The recent outbreak of coronavirus pandemic puts us in a dilemma when we can provide a patient’s health history. So is it okay to disclose a patient’s health history to protect others from infectious diseases? These ethical issues arise to safeguard others from contagious diseases.

Malpractice and Negligence by Healthcare Providers

According to a study published in the BMJ journal, “medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US.” Patients affected by malpractice and negligence may never recover from it. Thus administrators, physicians, and nurses need to avoid such negligence.

Cultural Understanding

Healthcare professionals should have the ability to understand and take care of the cultural differences. Suppose a patient from another culture or religion may not believe in a specific procedure being performed. Then what a doctor’s prime role in that situation? Should the doctor perform the procedure anyhow, or should he stop the procedure according to the will of the patient?

Assisted Suicide by Physicians

The assisted suicide by physicians is generally known as Euthanasia. It is one of the common ethical issues in the healthcare industry. It is the act of intentionally killing someone to end terminal pain. As mentioned in the above example, what would happen if a patient would request to end his life as suffering for terminally ill disease?

So “legalization of assisted suicide by physicians is the matter of states’ right,” according to federal law. But the dilemma leaves the states to reason with residents’ right to autonomy. Also, it depends on the healthcare providers’ belief on what they ought to do, base on ethical codes.

These were some ethical issues in the healthcare industry that healthcare practitioners have to face. We hope the points mentioned above will help you to understand the topic better; else, you can take help from our tutorials.


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