ETHICAL DILEMMA IN DENTISTRY
Ethical dilemma refers to the state in which one has to choose mostly between two or more options which are equally identical in magnitude or importance. Notably, the choice of one does not entirely solve the impending challenge. Dentistry sector just like other professions is not an exceptional to this perennial challenge. Fair treatment or conclusion is reached after weighing the options available and extensively examining their consequences. It is worth noting that ethical issues are not confined or associated to some specific factors but they mostly arise due to issues at hand (5). However, there are some common and consistent ethical dilemmas in dentistry sector which most dentists face in their endeavours.
In this particular study, the ethical dilemma involving paternalism against informed consent will be examined. Paternalism in this aspect refers to the situation where the dentist makes the sole decision on the kind of treatment to be administered to the patient. Paternalism assumes that the dentist or doctor knows and understands better than the patient and hence the task of how, when and if the patient will be treated at that particular moment lies with them (11). Critics have always argued that this is a wrong approach as the patient is not given any right to air their views on the treatment they think or feel should be administered to them. Consequently, this approach is viewed and interpreted as unfriendly and to an extent unethical by many who feel it should be discouraged.
On the other hand, informed consent is considered friendly and accepted by many. Contrary to the paternalism approach, the patient is extensively engaged and is part and parcel in influencing the medication they receive. The patient is given the right to express their views on how they should be treated and extensively discuss the possible outcomes with the dentist. This approach gives the patient a room to either accept the terms of treatment or consider other alternatives. This is influenced by the fact that there is an interactive session where not only dentists give their options, but also patients are able to ask detailed questions which ultimately affect their final decision. Interestingly, this approach can be regarded as formally or regally bided since the patient is given a chance to sign or proof that they have accepted the terms and conditions of the treatment.
Both the patients and dentists contribute to ethical issues in dentistry in equal measures. Among the common ethical issues is the concern that there have been rampant cases where dentists over-diagnose and over-treat their patients for selfish financial gains.This particular ethical issue is rampant precisely because the patients are not vast with treatment and diagnose procedures and hence the dentists take advantage of this situation (9). The patients do not question the dentists’ activities during treatment since their main concern is to get well despite the costs that come along with the treatment. Notably, there are ethical issues that are as a result of patients’ decisionsand misunderstandings. Patients have been blamed for making wrong decisions on issues pertaining their health. At times patients can stand their ground and ignore the dentists’ advice who in this particular case are well placed to know the best treatment.
Another notable ethical issue is the aspect of low morale and motivation from dentists who work for organisations rather than on their own. At times the dentists are pressurised to meet particular targets and hence jeopardising the whole process since they are concentrated on quantity rather than quality. As a result of this, they may not give their best which is a disadvantage to the patients seeking treatment from those particular organisations.
Apart from ethical issues, there are ethicalprinciples involved in dentistry.Good morals and ethicsin dentistry sector are realised when these ethical principles are put into practise.The ethical principle of autonomy should be greatly considered and applied to satisfy both the patients and the dentists. This principle encourages individuals to make correct and independent decisions regarding their welfare and in this case their health. The decision should not be skewed or influenced by other parties who may be interested on the issue at hand. On the dentistry issue, the patients and dentists should not be compelled to make some decisions but should be given room to make their choices.
Another ethical principle to be considered is justice which should be observed and put into consideration in dentistry sector. All parties, in this case dentists and patients should be just in all their endeavours. Dentists are encouraged to serve all patients without bias or segregation and should treat all patients equally (8). Dentists are constantly reminded to focus on eliminating the problem rather than focusing on the person with that particular problem or illness.
The ethical principle of beneficence advocates that the core principle of dentists is to treat the patients by offering quality service to meet their expectation. Competency is of high essence here since the dentists are expected to give their best based on their vast knowledge in this field. Interestingly, this principle encourages dentists to offer free services at times to benefit the entire population.
To address ethical dilemma, several issues are involved to make this a success. The initial step is to identify the ethical dilemma at hand so that one can know what they are dealing in the first place. After identifying the problem, getting a wide perspective about the problem is sort notably by collecting information about the same. With vast knowledge provided by the information collected, one should state the options available or which may be sought to improve the situation. The ethical principle is integrated to the options stated to enable proper executions in relation to the case study. The final stages of this process is for one to make a decision entirely depending on their previous observations and study outcomes. Finally, after making the decision one will have to implement it to achieve tangible results.
The solutions for a given dilemma should be guidedby the principle of justice in which the dentists should at all times hold observe their ethical conducts. Based on the principle of benefiting the patients, the dentists are encouraged to make decisions that lean on assisting their clients and are discouraged to be self-centred in their profession. By interacting with the patients, the dentists will be able to make the correct choice on the medication best for the said patients (5).
The solution to the dilemma in the dentistry can be achieved by embracing the informed consent method. This is because an interaction session between dentists and patients will shed more light on the illness issues affecting a certain patient. Justice will be served to the patient since they have a choice either to accept to undergo the treatment or to look for options elsewhere. Informed consent is also advisable since it integrates the principle of autonomy in the whole process. Correct decision making will be realised under this aspect since all the parties are part and parcel in choosing what is best among the choices available.
The ethical dilemma issue should entirely be dealt with by considering and putting into practise the ethical principles. All involved parties should do their best to meet the expectations of others without harming them. The dentists and patients in this case should be encouraged to work together towards improving the health of the patients while creating an enabling environment for the dentists.
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