The healthcare system is immensely responsible for pioneering human development across a range of areas. Without proper healthcare, we would not progress beyond primary diseases, and our growth would be severely stunted. Nations with excellent healthcare resources show better progression in their economy, the education sector, and others. However, many ethical and legal considerations arise during treatment.
These dilemmas can concern medical treatment, management skills, and the availability of healthcare. These ethical considerations don’t just impact individual patients but shape community healthcare. Therefore, it’s vital to address these concerns immediately and formulate suitable responses. If you’re interested in learning more about ethical considerations in healthcare, keep reading below.
1. Access to healthcare
An alarming issue facing the modern healthcare systems is ensuring equal access to healthcare for all. Historically, the underprivileged, people of color, and other minorities have had limited access to healthcare. Furthermore, people from remote locations often need to travel hundreds of miles for fundamental healthcare issues. Additionally, increasing healthcare costs severely limit people’s access. Many people often face immense challenges because of illnesses that could’ve efficiently been dealt with if they had the funds. Even patients with health insurance will find that several gaps impair their access to healthcare.
Additionally, healthcare systems need to adapt to an increasingly globalized world, where they might encounter patients from all cultures and religions. A rational solution to this would be to develop a diverse workforce within healthcare organizations that can cater to people from various backgrounds without any discrimination. Healthcare facilities should hire doctors, nurses, and other staff members from different cultures, groups, and religions who can adequately provide access to healthcare for all. Additionally, they should hire competent workers who are aware of such ethical issues and tackle them accordingly. For instance, nurses moving from online MSN to DNP programs have a better understanding of the need to cater to healthcare disparities and inequality. The immense learning and research work they achieve from such online programs allows them to respond to healthcare challenges strategically. Ultimately, working on transcultural healthcare delivery can help ensure better access to healthcare, as minority groups won’t fear that doctors will dismiss their concerns. Nurse practitioners can be at the forefront of leading this change, improving access to healthcare for all communities.
2. Patient Confidentiality
With the increasing integration and dependence on technology in our daily lives, healthcare organizations have resorted to storing patient data online. It makes every facility’s tasks manageable and allows healthcare staff to devote their attention to essential duties. However, the electronic health record of a patient contains a vast amount of data and the entire medical history of a patient. Medical history is easily one of the most personal aspects of our lives, and it’s the primary responsibility of a health care provider to protect this data. Sharing patient data for other purposes requires either the consent of the patient or anonymization of the data. However, insurance companies, marketers, researchers, and employers may often have undue access to these records. For instance, many researchers utilize the data of patients for their research purpose without their consent. To this day, it remains the most unethical practice that many healthcare institutions negligently carry out.
Furthermore, online data storage can leave patients globally at risk of their private information being breached.
3. Physician-Assisted Suicide
PAS, also known as euthanasia, is another ethical concern facing modern healthcare. It is the process whereby a doctor assists a patient to take their own life. In states where PAS is legal, it is only allowed to terminally ill patients. Those who can take the drug themselves and are mentally sane enough to understand what they are doing. Although PAS is legal in many states, it faces strong opposition. Many professionals and ordinary people assert that PAS directly contradicts the physician’s role as a healer.
Furthermore, others state that terminally ill patients might fear that they are a burden to their families, motivating their decision. However, proponents say that assisted suicide should be an autonomous right of every patient and allows patients to shorten an otherwise painful process. Regardless of arguments for and against the topic, euthanasia remains one of the most contentious issues in healthcare.
4. Negligence and malpractice
Malpractice is easily one of the biggest healthcare concerns and one that, regrettably, affects thousands of patients annually. Even minor medical errors can cause patients immense pain or even lead to their death. Moreover, it can take them many years to make a full recovery. Furthermore, malpractice suits come with massive emotional trauma for patients, who might find it hard to trust healthcare practitioners again.
There are several forms of malpractice and negligence. These range from defective equipment, wrongful/delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, or incorrect prescriptions. Negligence can also arise when several doctors assess a case and disagree upon the treatment protocols or the diagnosis. Addressing this issue is thus imperative to ensuring better patient care.
Working in healthcare can be an enriching experience, but it’s essential to keep your limitations and ethical considerations in mind. Although healthcare practitioners are competent, well-trained officials, they are humans and can make mistakes at times. Therefore, it’s important to stay vigilant. Furthermore, healthcare practitioners need to assess the system’s limitations and figure out how to fix these inadequacies. Doing so can immensely improve the experience for both practitioners and patients alike. Currently, the healthcare system’s ethical issues include inequality in access to healthcare, patient data confidentiality, euthanasia, and malpractices. Although there are policies to curb these issues, there is still a lot to do to eradicate them.