Technological Advances and Medical Ethics

Posted: January 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

In the contemporary world, Medical Ethics is associated with professional standards of conduct and dilemmas that arise with medical practice. Medical Ethics is the application of ethical reasoning to medical practice. As medical practice today is delivered increasingly in a multidisciplinary working environment, where the emphasis is placed strongly on team work and partnership, medical ethics is a subset of the wider 'Healthcare Ethics'.

The turning point in medical ethics has occurred since the Second World War. This is a result of change in social attitudes, increasing plurality of cultural and religious norms and the development of a system of internationally recognised Human Rights. Hence, medical ethics had to develop towards a more analytical approach. Today there is a clear shift in the practice of medicine from the previous reliance on medical paternalism ( Doctor knows best) to a Doctor Patient (Participation) approach.

Two concepts of medical ethics are now acknowledged.

*Traditional medical ethics - seen as the professional norms and standards of medical practice

* Analytical medical ethics - seen as the critical process through which substantive ethical claims are justified or criticised in the light of argument and counter argument.

The latter is influenced by our multicultural society and various academic disciplines like Philosophy, Law, Social Sciences, History and Theology. Thus medical ethics has ceased to be the sole domain of doctors and has become a 'part of the general moral and ethical order by which we live.' Increasingly in practice , it is tested against the ethical principles of society.

Medical advances and ethics

Advances in medicine itself ie wider variety of more powerful technologies, the capacity to prolong life, alter psychological states, impede and enhance reproductive capacity and more recently the ability to alter genetic structure, have all influenced the adoption of this analytical approach.

Reproductive Medicine

There are many areas in modern Reproductive Medicine which pose ethical challenges. To document a few , they are, Assisted Reproduction, abortion on demand, surrogacy, selection of sex of child for termination, assisted conception for same sex couples, selective reduction of foetuses in multiple pregnancies and Genetic engineering.

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Technological Advances and Medical Ethics

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