Among the four principles of ethics, beneficence is considered as the most important. Non-maleficence, justice and then autonomy, in that order, then follow it. This is because beneficence is a key pillar of ethics in health that considers the patient as the centre of attention (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). The care given should purely focus on the maximum satisfaction of the patient. Since the patient is the centre of attention, as much benefit as possible of the health care provided will thus derived from the health care model (Pozgar G. 2011). If all the health care services provided conform to the principle of beneficence, little or no harm shall be done on the patient (Ashcroft R. et al, 2007). All the other ethical principles will be complied with.
Since beneficence is the backbone of ethics in health, much emphasis should be laid on it to ensure that the patient obtains quality care. Health care practitioners will thus refrain from engaging in activities that are detrimental to the health of the patients (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). In implementing the principle of beneficence, health care workers should attempt as much as possible to prevent harm or impending danger to their clients (Edge R. & Groves J, 2005). Attempts should also be made to avert any harm incase of its existence as well as to keep on doing good regardless of the circumstance surrounding health care provision.
Non-maleficence refers to the principle of doing no harm to the client in health care provision (Edge R. & Groves J, 2005). It is the duty of health care providers to ensure that patients are protected from any harm that may arise from the health care setting (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). In the verge of providing health care services, health care providers should ensure that patients are free from any hazards in the environment as well as mitigate any harm suffered by the patient in any case the patient is already a victim of such harm (Ashcroft R. et al, 2007). This principle will automatically fall in place incase beneficence is strictly observed by the health care worker.
The principle of justice entails the application of the maxim of equity in the provision of health care services (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). All patients should receive equal attention from the health care provider. No patient should be treated as more important to the other. This disregards the social class that one hails from in the society (Pozgar G. 2011). Proper triaging should be done to ensure that patients are grouped into various categories depending on the severity of their condition. Attendance to the patients is thus done based on the severity of their conditions (Ashcroft R. et al, 2007). This order should not be violated based on favoritism to some clients. It helps to allocate scarce resources in order to achieve maximum satisfaction of all the clients using the limited economic resources.
Autonomy requires that each patient be treated as an independent entity that is capable of making sound decisions regarding their health provided that they do not suffer from a mental health problem (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). The health care provider should not force the client to receive treatment incase such is against their wish. A practitioner should respect a patient’s decision. However, the health care provider is under an obligation to explain to the patient the repercussions involved in refusing any form of treatment (Edge R. & Groves J, 2005). This principle ensures that health care providers involve patients in decision-making processes during their moment of treatment. It protects patients from egocentric health care practitioners who will not involve patients during the provision of health care.
Of all the above principles, beneficence stands out as the most important principle in health care provision (Morrison E. & Furlong B. 2014). If beneficence is strictly embraced by all the health care practitioners, the practitioners shall easily comply with the other principles (Edge R. & Groves J, 2005). All these are therefore important in effective health care service delivery to patients.
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Morrison E. & Furlong B. (2014) Health Care Ethics: Critical Issues for the 21st Century. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Pozgar G. (2011) Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Ashcroft R. et al (2007) Principles of Health Care Ethics. NY: Wiley Publishers. 2nd Edition
Edge R. & Groves J. (2005) Ethics of Health Care: A guide for Clinical Practice. NY: Cengage Learning.