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Medical Ethics, Modern Situations

According to Steinberg, "Medical ethics in the modern sense refers to the application of general and fundamental ethical principles to clinical practice situations, including medical research," (Steinberg 1998: 3).
This suggests that, in the modern sense, medical ethics are increasingly being approached from a far more broad perspective than in the recent past; many scholars and medical doctors are not regarding the Oath as the sole source of ethical guidance for the ever-diversifying profession. Instead, a somewhat more comprehensive, or holistic, approach toward analyzing medical ethics has evolved out of the complex problems and questions facing modern society-questions surrounding new applications of science, engineering, social theory and social or political debates. These questions deal with issues such as biomedical engineering, cloning, stem cell research, physician assisted suicide, abortion rights, as well as the role of the hospital itself; and although some such issues may seem very specific, the philosophical implications for how they might be handled or addressed are far-reaching, and indicate what the fundamental relationship between medical practitioner and patient might be-or should be.
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y "public health." Obviously, this reduces to who is defined as a member of the public, as well as what sort of health is something that modern medicine should actually be concerned with. Are unborn infants regarded as members of the public; if they are, what specific rights to they have to treatment Is the medical establishment responsible for taking all actions necessary for supporting the public health-such as preventative care or education-or is it merely responsible for reactive measures of medical care-such as drug treatments and emergency surgical operations Although it would be ridiculous to contend that such contentious matters could be settled in a relatively brief paper, these are nevertheless the starting points for our investigation of what public health, ethically could or should mean to humanity as a whole.
With reference to the second question aforementioned, Cribb and Duncan offer something of a template through which to run surrounding debates: "(1) From the negative model and the narrow definition, health promotion is disease prevention. (2) From the positive model and the broad definition, health promotion is well-being promotion," (Cribb and Duncan 2002: 19). Clearly, the first model for health promotion is reactive, in that it allows individuals to act according to their own preferences, and only acts in the course of their lives as a measure to, essentially, fix what goes wrong. This standpoint is sometimes regarded as the maximization of personal freedom, since people's choices-those that have impacts on their health-are not as significantly influenced by the medical industry as they would be if a proactive stance were taken. In the second definition, a proactive stance is implied; one in which vaccinations are mandatory, as is particular ...Show more


In the narrow sense, the term "medical ethics" refers to the Oath of Hippocrates, which idealistically defines the relationship between a practicing doctor, his patients, his peers and-by implication-human society as a whole. From this frame of reference, the doctor or medical practitioner is bound, primarily, by honor or a fear of professional reprisal to conduct him or herself in a manner that best serves the public good…
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Medical Ethics, Modern Situations essay example
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