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The previous post is accurate in suggesting that the issue of life and death lends itself to studying ethics. There are many elements involved in the health care industry that requires a strong understanding and application of both personal and social ethics. The reality is that very few decisions in the industry do not carry ethical implications because there are others who depend on the health care provider to give them answers and certitude in a setting where there might be little upon which to progress. This is where the ethical principles are needed. Individuals in this field have to not only understand ethics as a concept, but have developed their own "core vision" that guides their own ethical conduct, complete with what they can do and what they will not do. When needed, health care professionals must communicate that to those who require such guidance. The very essence of ethics and what is justified and right or wrong is definitely something that is highly applicable to the health care profession and those who are involved in it.
Every single human needs or will need health care at some point in their life. How easy it would be, when working in the health care profession, to become numb or indifferent to humanity. If a doctor sees 50 patients in a single day, they can easily lose their individuality, their individual pain and suffering and become just one of a series, an endless series.
So like law enforcement, or education or social work, the study of ethics in the health care industry helps to remind people that they are, in fact, dealing with other people, and often in their most vulnerable and frightened states. Ethics helps remind them to treat their patients with the kind of humanity they would like to be shown if the situation were reversed.
I would say that the major reason to study ethics in the health care profession is the fact that a person's life and health is one of their most precious possessions. Therefore, any actions that affect those things is of supreme importance to the person. Because of this, health care professionals must act ethically when interacting with patients.
For example, a health care professional must know what to do when his or her judgement is incompatible with the wishes of the patient. Let's say the patient really does not want to have a knee replacement when the doctor thinks they should. Or let's say a patient thinks they have a physical problem when the doctor thinks the problem is mental.
In each of these cases, it is important to have a grounding in ethics so that a doctor will know how to handle the conflict between his or her professional judgement and the deep desires of the patient.
Please follow the link to find a list of articles dealing with issues in medical ethics.
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