in the world is educated and informed on the difference between right and
wrong. Various cultures, religions,
occupations, countries, and other environments can alter these
differences. However, there are
universal moral values that all people share.
Ethical principles are formed from these values and law is created from
moral values and ethical principles. By
defining the relationships between ethics, morality, and legality, how ethics
differ in the health care industry, and applying in a health care environment,
one can understand the importance of ethics in the health care industry.
George Pozgar (2016), ethics is a branch of philosophy that seeks to understand
morality, the purpose, and its justification.
Morality can be viewed similarly as ethics to most people. However, morality utilizes an individual’s
culture, religion, values, and beliefs to determine the right or wrong concept,
which can vary depending on their background.
Ethics systemizes values and principles and conceptualizes moral conduct
so that it assists individuals into making moral decisions. Legality also systemizes values and
principles which are derived from ethical values, also known as laws. Laws are generated by the government and require
all people to follow them. In most
cases, the legal system and ethics conform to each other. However, there are legal cases that conflict
with ethical values. For example, according
to the United States Department of Labor (2018), children, as young as 12, can
work under Agricultural Employment laws.
Although it is legal, it would be viewed as unethical to many people. Ethical decisions in many business industries
focus on the business and stakeholders whereas ethical decision making in the
healthcare industry differs by focusing on the health and life of the patients.
healthcare environments, their ultimate goals are to provide the best patient
care and to save lives. Because of these
goals, ethical decisions are made on a daily basis to save lives and keep
people healthy. The four main ethical
principles are present in all healthcare environments. The principles of ethics are autonomy,
beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice; autonomy gives the right of the
patient to make his or her decisions; beneficence is a principle for showing
compassion and kindness with the
intent of doing good for others regardless of their
religious, cultural, or sexual background; nonmaleficence requires medical
professionals to prevent harm to their patients or others in society; justice is the principle
in which every patient is treated fairly and equally (McCormick, 2013). Medical environments have various patient
types ranging from small injuries to terminal diseases. The goal of keeping patients safe,
comfortable, and healthy makes it simpler to make ethical decisions. However, certain situations can cause difficulties
in ethical decision making, such as life and death situations, cultural
differences, or religious differences.
In one scenario,
an elderly patient has suffered a stroke and put on life support. The patient’s family member had an advance
directive over the patient’s decision.
After some time, the patient’s family member decided to prevent
resuscitation in the case of health failure.
The employer should use the ethical principle of autonomy and honor the
request, even though it conflicts with other ethical principles. Under the normative ethics theory or applied
ethics theory, the employer should resuscitate the patient because it would be
morally right to save lives. However,
utilizing the descriptive ethics theory, the employer would honor the request
of the family member. The patient has
suffered and is nearing the end of life.
If the employer used the deontological ethics theory or consequential
ethics theory and resuscitated the patient, the employer could face lawsuit
and/or the patient could be in worse condition and suffer more. Regardless of the various ethical theories
used to make decisions, the principles of ethics are the standard in which all
medical professionals must abide by.
Ethics have created
positive environments by justifying the right and wrong actions in people. By comparing morality, ethical principles and
theories, and the legal system, it is clear that the values and principles
support the medical industry. The
principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice promote a
compassionate and comfortable environment for all patients and justifies that ethics is required in the