Medical ethics have helped shape and guide clinical practice, the culture of medicine and biomedical research. Good medical ethics are coherent and are integral to the activities of healthcare professionals. Ethics are moral principles that govern behaviour and create a way of thinking. In order for ethics to be embedded within clinical practice, professionals need to progress from their training by reflecting upon their actions and the performance of others.
In clinical contexts, ethics are required when resolving medical related dilemmas; healthcare clinicians are trained to call upon their experience of professional judgement to make decisions. However, when the dilemma is less medically focused and addresses the patient and their values, a decision is harder to conduct as their training is limited within this particular field. But what makes medical ethics effective? Medical ethics should make the field of medicine better. This can be carried out in many ways: reflecting on everyday ethical issues, ensuring ethical values are integrated and embedded in the organisation of healthcare and empowering clinicians to be advocates for patients (Kong 79).
Critics may argue that the changes in the way professionals’ approach and deal with issues reflect the wider society. Nevertheless, many still argue and believe that ethics shape the cultural changes of society and teaching medical ethics will enable professionals to respond effectively to issues occurring everyday (Rhodes 71).
How do we justify the scandals and failure of patient care that occurred at the Staffordshire Hospital in the early 2000s? Were the medical ethics not good enough? The Staffordshire hospital scandal concerns poor care and high mortality rates of patients at the hospital (Francis 4). Medical ethics have been a part of training for several decades and professionals have had access to ethical guidance. Therefore, we can interpret that the events that took place in Staffordshire were due to a failure of transferring ethical reasoning into clinical practice.
A common underlying theme in medical scandals is a failure for ethics to become a fundamental part within healthcare organisations. Ethics is like a minority language, for the majority of people it is a classroom language which they can ignore after they pass examinations. A way to translate ethical reasoning into practice is by creating an ethics community. Many medical students and junior clinicians perceive and witness unethical behaviour but they do not feel obliged to speak up as they think it is ineffective. Therefore, healthcare organizations need to create a culture that supports professionals raising concerns. For example, the NHS has regulator plans to make it easier for doctors to speak up and break the code of silence (O’Dowd 1). Another example is the Cure the NHS campaign which was founded and led by Julie Bailey whose mother passed away at Staffordshire Hospital. The aim of the campaign is to bring honest and transparency within the NHS, there has been positive feedback from frontline workers as staff are beginning to speak up for patients and themselves.
Bibliography / Reference
- Kong, Wing May. “What Is Good Medical Ethics? A Clinician’s Perspective.” Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 41, no. 1, 2015, pp. 79–82. JSTOR,
- Rhodes, Rosamond. “Good and Not so Good Medical Ethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 41, no. 1, 2015, pp. 71–74. JSTOR,
- “Report Of The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.” Google Books. N. p., 2020. Web.
- “NHS Regulator Plans To Make It Easier For Doctors To Raise Concerns And Break “Mafia” Code Of Silence – Proquest.” Search.proquest.com. N. p., 2020. Web.