Description : One of the most significant developments in the history of medicine has been the evolution of guidelines of how medical practitioners relate to their patients, principles which form the core of medical ethics
Ethics in MedicineEthical considerations affecting interactions between people are found in nearly every field, but are particularly significant in medicine given the highly personal relationship between medical practitioners and their patients, Historians often trace the roots of medical ethics in the Western world to the Hippocratic Oath of ancient Greece, which required new physicians to pledge to maintain confidentiality in treatment of their patients and to avoid doing harm. Over the centuries, principles first outlined in the Oath sustained and guided physicians in their day to day practice and modified versions of the Oath remain today as a common initiation into medical practice. Unfortunately, however, developments in medical ethics may also come in response to atrocities, such as the exploitation of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps in medical experiments.
Medical Ethics Today Today, ethical issues often come about as a result of advancements in knowledge, such as innovations in reproductive and genetic technologies. Other areas of moral concern include the influence of payments to practitioners to affect decisions in prescribing drugs or other treatments; biomedical and behavioral human subject research; the harvesting and transplantation of human organs; euthanasia, abortion and end-of-life decisions; and the allocation of health care services, particularly during health crises such as the COVID-19 Pandemic creating shortages in the the availability of health resources and staff.
The establishment of ethical review boards and committees also has . worked to establish, uphold, and regulate the moral principles of health care. Ethical breaches can result in quite serious professional and legal consequences. In fact, the history of medicalmalpractice law and medical ethics are intertwined. In modern times, when a medical oversight or other impropriety occurs, there are systems of medical and legal review to support and defend harmed patients.
Medical Ethics and New Jersey
New Jersey has played a significant role in the ongoing debate over issues in medical ethics.
In 1976, the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in allowing the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan, who had become comatose and lapsed into a vegetative state when she was 21 years old after consuming alcohol and drugs while on a crash diet, to disconnect their daughter's respirator which was believed to be the sole means to keep her alive, focused broad attention on what was termed "the right to die." The Court's ruling, which came after physicians and health care institutions had refused to comply with the parents' wishes in the absence of legal authorization, soon led other states and nations to confront, in varying legislative and judicial ways, difficult ethical choices in bioethics, euthanasia, and legal guardianship. The Quinlan case has widely impacted the practice of medicine around the world, including fostering the development of formal ethics committees in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices.
One of the most prominent--and controversial--scholars on medical ethics also has been Peter Singer, who in 1999 was appointed as Princeton University's Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics. A native of Australia, he also serves as a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. Singer has particularly provoked criticism for his view that it is ethical to give parents the option (in consultation with doctors) to euthanize infants with severe disabilities. arguing that the value of a life should be based on traits such as rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness. Singer's work in applied ethics is based in part on utilitarianism, the tradition in ethical philosophy holding that actions are right or wrong depending on the extent to which they promote happiness or prevent pain. With less controversy, Singer also has become a leading advocate in support of the rights of animals, objecting to their use in medical experiments and as a food source, as well as a proponent of vastly increased aid to impoverished nations and the poor.
Broader issues in setting standards of medical ethics, as well a s specific cases in which health practitioners are charged with ethical violations, are within the scope of statutory authority of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, a body within the state Department of Health. The Board is is responsible for protecting the public's health and safety by determining qualifications of physicians and other health care professionals for licensure, establishing standards for practice, and disciplining licensees who do not comply with these standards.