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The Medical Ethics of Informed Consent

Most medical professionals take an oath before they begin practicing to promise to not do any further harm to their patients. Medical ethics is crucial to maintain an effective and helpful health care system. While sometimes deciding what the ethical choice may be, health care professionals must work to provide the best treatment for their patients. The ethical choice also might differ depending on which physician you ask. Many ethicists agree on four basic values to keep in mind when deciding on a medical ethics choice, which are  autonomy, justice, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. They must also look outside of their own personal values and keep in mind the values and wishes of patient’s and their families. 

Medical ethics ensures that physicians will make choices in good conscience. In many medical cases and emergencies, a patient is not able to make choices for themselves, leaving their doctor to make decisions for them, keeping in mind what’s in their best interests. One of the most important reasons to uphold medical ethics is to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. A strong doctor-patient relationship can allow a doctor to provide better care for their patients. 

Arguably the most important part of the doctor-patient relationship is the need for a patient to be able to trust their doctor. A patient’s trust in their physician is typically associated with better outcomes from treatment. Trust is needed for patients to effectively address their needs to their doctor, as well as for their doctor to listen to these concerns. Aside from medical results, it’s also important for everyone to feel well-cared for when they seek medical treatment. All patients have the need to feel comfortable receiving care from any medical professional. Trust is the foundation in any relationship, for the one you have with your doctor to the one you have with a motor vehicle accident lawyer.  

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is a necessary part of medical ethics. It’s also an important part of maintaining a healthy doctor-patient relationship. Informed consent involves a healthcare provider explaining the details of treatment, including the risks and benefits to their patients. When patients are given adequate information about their care, they’re able to make decisions for themselves if they’d like to go through with that treatment, consider other options, or turn town treatment altogether. In most cases, typically excluding emergency situations, informed consent is the law and permission must be given to provide treatment. 

Importance of Informed Consent 

Anyone without medical education can’t make well-informed decisions about their treatment on their own and require their doctor to aid them with this. Patients are often given the choice to either receive medical treatment or deny it. Minors are not generally considered to be able to make decisions regarding their medical care, but doctors still have a responsibility to keep informed about what their treatment entails. Those who aren’t able to make decisions for themselves will often have a court-appointed proxy who can act on their behalf to make it for them. When a person isn’t able to give consent, it’s especially important for doctors to act ethically.  

Informed consent is needed most times a patient receives care, such as routine blood tests. While many medical procedures can save lives, they can also be extremely difficult and have the chance of reducing the quality of life for patients. For example, if a patient has a terminal illness, but treatment can be provided that might make the remainder of their life painful or difficult, they might understandably want to turn it down. Patients have autonomy and a right to be able to choose what happens to their bodies, and the only way they can properly do this is with the guidance of their physician. If doctors alone were able to make these life-altering decisions for their patients, people would often be subjected to pain and hardships against their will. 

Without informed consent, a patient can’t fully be able to trust their physician. Communication needs to be open for a patient to truly receive proper care. Doctors also need to understand the importance of transparency in their conversations with patients. Information regarding treatment should be unbiased to allow patients to decide what is best for them. When getting consent, it’s important for a physician to truly care about educating patients and respecting them, rather than convincing them to hand over their signature. Medical ethics play a heavy role in informed consent when doctors need to act according to what their patients want, not what they would want if they were in this situation.

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