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The earliest set of ethical ideas in medicine was the Hippocratic oath. (An oath is a special promise.) It was supposed to be written by Hippocrates but probably was not written by him.
There are 6 major principles (important ideas):
- Beneficences - a doctor must do things that are good for the patient (the doctor is giving medical care to.)
- Non-maleficence – a doctor must not try to hurt his patients.
- Autonomy - the patient can say he does not want to be treated
- Justice – talks about what is fair in giving people medicines and care. It talks about who gets what treatments.
- Dignity - the patient (and the doctor) have the right to dignity (respect for someone as a person)
- Truthfulness (being honest) – the doctor must tell the patient the truth
Medical ethics questions
Here are some kinds of medical ethics questions:
- If there is not enough of a medicine to treat every person who has a disease who should get the medicine?
- If a baby has a disease that will kill him very soon, what should a doctor do if the baby's mother says she does not want the baby to be helped?
- A patient has an injury that cannot be helped and that will kill them in a few minutes. The patient asks a doctor “am I going to die?” What should the doctor say?