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What both these issues show is how advances technology / medicine are changing the overall scope of the ethical debate within the medical and legal communities.
Together all of these events have helped to shape the way various ethical standards for medicine would evolve. This is important because they would clearly define the most appropriate conduct for medical research and how to interact with patients in the health care industry. As they would form the backbone of creating professional standards that the industry currently enjoys. However, as a number of breakthroughs in medicine and technology are taking place, this means that the overall issues of morals / ethics are evolving. Where, ethical issues are becoming more ambiguous or new ones are arising.
Rules Governing Morality
Over the decades a number of different codes and principals have been adopted, as way to provide various health care professionals with ethical standards in the different situations they will encounter. The AMA Code of Medical Ethics is one guideline that creates moral standards for everyone to follow. Where, it will address a number of different principals the most notable would include: when providing care the physician will show respect / treat all patients with dignity, all physicians will maintain high principals of honesty, follow the various laws, respect the rights of patients / other health care professionals, continuously learning new procedures / techniques and to support / care for all people. ("AMA Code of Medical Ethics," n.d.) These different principals establish a basic outline that physicians will follow. However, over the years the way various ethics are applied can to cause the codes can be vastly different. A good example of this can be seen during the 1950's and 1960's, when the AMA was opposed to creation of Medicare. Since that time, they have reversed positions and are now opposed to any kind of cuts in the program. (Rapaport, 2009) What this shows is the overall role of ethics is changing. Where, the AMA was opposed to expanding the program based on ethical / moral considerations. Yet, once the program was enacted they were opposed to any cuts because of the potential harm that would take place. This ethical shift was created based upon the changes in moral and ethics that the organization would have. In the case of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, it is seeking to identify the most ethical procedures when practicing medicine. Over the years, as the different views of society and the members of the AMA change, so will the code of ethics. To effectively enforce the different provisions, the AMA has the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Their responsibility is to examine different ethical issues and provide guidance to physicians about what the most correct response would be under the code. They also have powers of enforcing the various provisions of the code of ethics, to include: imposing fines and censuring those who are determined to be in violation. ("Council of Ethical and Judicial Affairs," 2010)
A second set of codes that were developed to provide different moral / ethical guidelines includes: the ICN Code of Ethics and the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. The ICN Code of Ethics provides nurses with a number of ethically-based principals that should be used at all times to include: respecting human life and treating everyone with respect. At which point, it will clearly spell out four relevant areas that pertain to the practice of nursing such as: the relationship that nurse have with patients / the general public, the most ethical behavior of nurses in the practice, the relationship of nursing with the profession itself and the relationship of nurses interacting with other colleagues. The code then goes one step further by: supporting nurses who refuse to participate in activities that will not sustain effective healing and caring. ("ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses," n.d.)
The American Medical Association of Nurses Code of Ethics is: a second code that guides nurses in the most morally correct actions. This code would include a number of distinct principals the most notable would include: protecting the patients confidentiality, protecting the public against unethical practices / procedures, taking responsibility for all decisions / actions, participating in the continuous development of modern medicine, protect the public / the field of nursing from disinformation / misrepresentation and working with other members of the health care industry to meet the needs of the general public. ("American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, " n.d.) What this shows, is how in the field of nursing the two different codes of ethics can be applied to the industry. This is significant because they provide nurses with two guidelines that they can follow, when various situations arise during the course of treating patients. When you have two different sets of codes in place, this helps provide moral clarity by giving everyone a variety of issues and how to most effectively respond. Over the course of time, this is helping to improve the various ethical issues and how they are applied, by providing nurses with a number of interpretations on moral situations.
In the field of medical research there are number of different codes that establish a variety of ethical standards the most notable would include: the Helsinki Declaration, the Nuremberg Code and the National Research Act. The Nuremberg Code and the National Research Act have had an impact on other codes of ethics within the health care industry. However, their greatest impacts have been felt within the field of medical research, as they would establish the basic procedures for conducting any kind of experiment (from an ethically acceptable view point). These two are important because they would require that all experiments must outweigh any kind of perceived harm to the subjects, they must be informed of the effects prior to engaging in the project and they must set standards for enforcing different provisions. This is significant because it is forcing medical researchers to act in the most morally and ethically correct way at all times. Where, various experiments that are taking place for the sole benefit of the researchers are no longer accepted as legitimate scientific experiments. Then, with various ways of enforcing the different provisions, is saying that any kind of actions or behavior beyond the various ethical codes will be punished. This is effectively forcing all medical researchers to follow the various provisions of the code.
The Helsinki Declaration was another set of codes that were adopted to provide even greater standards within the field of medical research. Where, the overall objective was to be to have some clearly definable scientific purpose that will benefit humanity or the environment in some way. Special attention must be given to how the research is conducted and the overall effects that it will have on subjects (including animals). There are several basic principals that are addressed to include: all research must conform to scientifically accepted standards, if human subjects are involved an independent committee must review the project / research being conducted, there must be clearly defined objectives of the study, the subject has the right to confidentiality, all hazards involving human research subjects should be predictable, all research on humans must spell out how it will be used along with the objectives and all research should contain ethical principals that are outlined as a part of the declaration. ("Declaration of Helsinki," 1996) This is significant because it takes the ideas presented in the Nuremberg Code and expands upon them in relation to how medical research is conducted. Over the course of time, the different principals outlined would help to clearly and define the most acceptable ethical standards within the field.
What Nuremberg Code, the National Research Declaration and the Helsinki Declaration highlight is how the overall nature of ethics is evolving. Where, the obvious abuses that were occurring in the past have been addressed to help curb the abuses that were taking place. Each one of the different codes / regulations provides specific guidance to various abuses that are occurring. This is significant, because as the world of medical research is evolving something must be done to address the changes that are taking place. A good example of this occurred in with the first break through in conducting a kidney transplant in 1954. Where, this medical advancement would bring up a number of different ethical issues that must be grappled with. The most notable would include: how various organs were harvested, who would be determined to receive such organs and how would the various organ transplants be regulated. (Pozgar, n.d.) This is significant because it underscores how with one advancement (the ability to conduct kidney transplants) opened up a number of different issues that could affect the ways medical research was conducted. As a result, the various codes of ethics were intended to provide specific guidance to the changes that are occurring in the…[continue]
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