Morality and Ethics Research Paper

Pages: 11 (3959 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Healthcare

Morality and Ethics

TOPIC: Research Paper on Morality and Ethics Assignment

Over the last several decades the issues of morality and ethics has been continually brought to the forefront. Part of the reason for this is the advances that have take place in medical research. This has caused a whole host of ethical and moral dilemmas to develop. A good example of this can be seen with the use of social networking, chatting and emailing as part of modern day medicine. These different advances have allowed physicians to be able to most effectively communicate with patients and colleagues about a whole host of issues. This can include everything for providing routine follow ups with patients, to utilizing this technology to communicate with other doctors about the latest procedures. In general this was touted as a cost effective way to provide even better health care services. However, like many new breakthroughs a number of moral as well as ethical issues have developed the most notable would include: liability issues, reimbursement / time issues and the confidentiality of the physician patient relationship. Liability issues are created with instructions provided by a patient to a physician in an email. Where, there are no ethical or moral guidelines for following such instructions. This is problematic for reimbursement / time issues, because this could interrupt the time that physicians are spending with patients and it could be an unwelcome distraction, by forcing them to constantly monitor incoming emails / instant messages. When a doctor is performing follow up with clients through the use of chatting or email, this could affect patient - physician confidentiality. As this information could be seized illicitly and then used to exert influence upon the physician or patient. What this shows, is how with nearly every single medical breakthrough or technological innovation there are a number of moral and ethical issues that must be grappled with. ("Privacy and Security," 2010) To fully understand how the rules of morality would apply to a variety of situations in the future; requires that you carefully examine what factors have influenced medical ethics and the different rules governing morality. This will provide the greatest insights, as to how the various moral and ethical standards can be updated to reflect the rapid changes that are occurring.

The Different Factors that have Influenced Medical Ethics

To fully understand the how various factors have affected medical ethics requires providing a definition of both ethics and morals. At which point, an evaluation will be undertaken to see the overall scope of how various events of the past have formed the modern day standard of ethics that all health care professionals practice. Morals are when a person has a sense of right and wrong about the various situations that they will encounter in daily life. Ethics is when you are examining how various views and behaviors will influence a particular situation. In this aspect, the greatest amount of good that can be achieved is desirable for all situations. Where, in the real world health care professionals are seeking to focus on achieving greatest amounts of good, through their actions and thoughts about various issues that may arise. In field of health care a number of different ethical issue have arose over the last several decades. To include: right to life issues, assisted suicide along with how and when these various ethics would be relevant to different patients. (Pozgar, n.d.)

There were a number of events throughout the 20th century and early 21st century that have shaped how various medical ethics are applied the most notable would include: the Tuskegee study, the Nuremberg trial and advances in technology / medicine. The Tuskegee study took place from 1932 to 1972, where researchers wanted to see the full effects of Syphilis. The problem was: that the researchers would seek out those people who were most vulnerable to the disease or were already affected by it. They would then watch the effects over the course of time. This is despite the fact that Syphilis could be treated with anti-biotics. Then, all of the different subjects were African-American men, who were poor, uneducated and came from rural areas. The fact that these people were not informed about a possible cure and the way they were selected; brought into question the overall morals / ethics of researchers. Where, scientists were interested in seeing the long-term effects of the disease, but not the well being of their subjects. (Pozgar, n.d.) This would help to play a role in shaping how various medical standards would be applied when any kind of medical research or procedure is being conducted. In many ways one could argue that the Supreme Court case Canterbury v Spence is tied directly to the Tuskegee study. This case is relevant because the court ruled that physicians are required to disclose the possible risks associated with any kind of medical procedure or study. The disclosure must take place at such a time, that the subject / patient can be able to make an accurate determination of the overall risks involved. ("Canterbury v Spence," n.d.) In the case of the Tuskegee study, the researchers clearly violated this ethical principal by not disclosing the dangers of their research and the fact that their subjects could be treated.

A second event that would influence medical ethics would be Nuremberg Trials. In this particular case, a military tribunal was conducted for 23 doctors and Nazi officials that allowed various kinds of medical experiments to take place in the concentration camps. This was significant because it would create the first ethical standards for modern day medicine (the Nuremberg Code). This required that voluntary consent must be received from the subject prior to conducting any kind of medical research. Then, the benefits of the research must outweigh any kinds of possible risks involved. As a result, an ethical standard would be developed that would help guide health care professionals on the most morally correct way to work with patients. This would lead to a number of increased ethical standards that would continue to be applied, based off of the Nuremberg Code. (Pozgar, n.d.) The most notable would include: the creation of the World Medical Association guidelines for doctors in 1964 and the National Research Act. The National Research Act is a specific law that was enacted to prevent the obvious abuses that occurred because of the Tuskegee study. Where, it would create a commission that would regulate and apply different ethical standards to the medical industry (the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research). ("Regulations and Ethical Guidelines," n.d.)

A third event that would influence medical ethics would be the changes in technology / advances in medicine. During the late part of the 20th century and early part of the 21st century, the point that life would begin and when it would end became two hotly debated ethical issues. At the heart of the debate was abortion and assisted suicide, these two are related because for the first time it was easy for life to be destroyed. (Pozgar, n.d.) The overall issue was when life began / ended and how would medical ethics apply to each situation. In the case of abortion, the Supreme Court ruled in Rowe v Wade that abortion was a legal medical procedure. Yet, there were attempts to limit / restrict access to abortions. ("Rowe v. Wade," 2010) As medical science evolved, an abortion pill was developed that could be purchased by women without a prescription (the morning after pill). This is causing an ethical conflict in defining what someone is allowed to do with their body and at what point does life actually begin. The introduction of the morning after pill only makes these issues more complicated, as women can be able to safely conduct their own abortions.

The way that the issues of advances in technology / medicine have helped to shape medical ethics is by allowing life to be extended. Where, someone could fall into a deep coma or they could suffer in agony from a debilitating condition. These points are tied together because they both involve when someone is allowed to die. What's occurring is modern medicine has advanced enough that someone can be kept alive in a vegetative state (such as a coma) for years. This has caused many in the medical community to claim that it is unethical to let someone to continue to live in such a state for prolonged periods of time. While, others will claim that ending any kind of assistance is effectively committing murder. In the case of assisted suicides a similar argument takes place, where proponents do not want to see someone suffer unnecessarily form debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. While, the opponents claim that assisting them with ending their lives is effectively committing manslaughter. An example of this can be seen with a 2006 incident, where the Supreme Court prevented the White House from punishing doctors who were assisting critically ill patients with suicide. (Pozgar, n.d.) This… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Morality and Ethics" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Morality and Ethics.  (2010, April 15).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Morality and Ethics."  15 April 2010.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Morality and Ethics."  April 15, 2010.  Accessed September 26, 2021.