Professionals working in the health care field are faced with ethical challenges when dealing
with their patients just like all other fields. This brings up the need to lay down principles that
govern their day to day operations. According to Beauchamp and Childress, 2001, the four
principles of healthcare ethics include autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice.
Autonomy is a principle based on rights and obligations of a patient in the process of treatment.
Healthcare providers should be truthful to their patients regarding their illness, give them all
information required and also allow them to make any decision regarding their treatment. At
some instance poor prognosis may be kept away from a patient by a confidant nurse if relatives
suggest doing so but yet still this can be considered as an ethical dilemma according to American
Nurses Association (2001).
Principle of beneficence aims at ensuring that a patient receives treatment from healthcare
professionals that is of a maximum benefit to them. For instance, relatives of a patient may
decide to hide prognosis with a good intention toward the patients healing process.
Principle of non-maleficence is geared towards protecting the patient from any harm that may be
caused by healthcare providers in the process of handling his/her patient. Patients should be
protected no matter the situation.
Justice in relation to healthcare means that patients should be treated equally and fairly in terms
of recourses. Patients’ rights should be looked into and respected.
Running Head: HEALTH CARE ETHICS
Beuchamp TL, Childress JF (2001) Principles of biomedical ethics. (5thedn). New York: Oxford
American Nurses Association (2001) Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements.
Washington,DC:American Nurses Association