Ethical considerations in medicine - in past times and today

The first written documents from the Ancient world and later, regulating a physicians activities and responsibilities, pointed out the obligation for an ethical relationship with patients. In the 20th century national medical associations have created codes, based on Hipocrates' teaching, which comprehended the medical professions ethical norms. Earlier the study of medicine offered future physicians a complete professional and humanistic education that enabled them to solve almost all their patients problems. But the last decades of the 20th century have brought huge medical and technological developments which have confronted physicians with a series of ethical questions not regulated by the law. Health systems have become very expensive and the method of "cost and benefit" has been introduced, first in America and later in some European countries. According to this method medical treatment should be offered or refused based on a preliminary favorable or unfavorable prognosis. An approach of this kind, as well as representing the complete abandonment of humane principles in medicine, also carries the possibility of harm to the patient due to the incorrect prognosis. Therefore the physician must remain faithful to the ethical principles of Hipocrates' teaching. In his work he has to apply the maximal possible economy, but following the idea of help and care for each patient - appopriate to the stage of his or her illness, basing each decision on a high level of professional knowledge and correctly formed conscience.
Category: Clinical observations - professional paper
Reference work: