Health Care Ethics

Coronavirus began spreading from China inthe year 2019 and in December. From then, it is spreading like wildfire all over the world. It has spread both globally and locally and within a very short time span, it was declared as an emergency by the World Health Organisation. In the middle of a growing pandemic caused by a coronavirus, throughout the world, healthcare professionals and other healthcare workers remain in the centre of attention as they are participating in treatment of the diseased person and in also screening process. Besides the management of the crisis, the disease is still infecting millions of people everywhere (Spoorthy, Pratapa&Mahant, 2020). The total number of reported cases is 24,762,321 and the deaths caused by COVID-19 are 814, 948 (World Health Organization, 2020). And this all causes a burden on the healthcare facility. The frontline workers are far greater risks than anyone else. Therefore, even if the doctors or the other workers are scared to their job they still have moral obligations towards the patients suffering from COVID-19. It is embedded in their duty to take care of patients even if they had to put their lives at risks and they can’t deny from their responsibilities (Spoorthy, Pratapa &Mahant, 2020).

Coronaviruses are encapsulated RNA viruses. The main reason for the transmission of the disease is infected, coronavirus patients. However, the asymptomatic ones also play important role in transmission. Droplets from the mouth and one to one contact are the major routes of transmission. Individuals belonging to every age group are susceptible to the infection. Elder people and those having chronic diseases can easily become serious cases if infected by a coronavirus. The symptoms shown by infected people are fever, cough and diarrhoea(Shen et al., 2020). Ethics are involved in treating a coronavirus patient because the doctor can also be infected while treating the patient. Challenges to ethics in healthcare are very frequent even in normal conditions because the healthcare professionals and workers respond towards human suffering. To act in an ethical manner is embedded in their profession. However, the person in healthcare faces problems or distress in the way of their proceedings of the task. The task can be the cases which consist of patients who have diseases which are lives threatening and decisions concerning the patient’s life is in the hand of the healthcare professional. In these cases, the institutions provide the ethic services which help the patient, the professional who is helping and the family member also. In the case of the corona, three main ethical duties have to undertake by the healthcare professional and worker. They are the duty to plan, the responsibility of safeguard and the duty to guide. Clinicians like nurses and physicians have been trained to work for individuals who are suffering from diseases. Health emergencies which are of very large impact need these healthcare professionals to bring change in their way of working or practices, including, in some circumstances to give priority to the community even above themselves and their own family members. In acting towards COVID-19, healthcare professionals and the healthcare institutions need to acknowledge the ethical framework (Berlinger et al., 2020).

It is needless to say that nurse, doctors and other staff members of the healthcare sector are very much vulnerable to this very deadly and infectious disease. In the times of global pandemic, they have to go through uncalled challenges. The lists of workers who have to work because of their moral obligations in treating a patient are nurses, medical cleaners, paramedics, healthcare administrators, pathologists, ambulance drivers and most importantly doctors. Besides treating coronavirus patients, these workers saved multiple lives but also have lost many fights along the way. Many cases have occurred in which the people working in the front line have lost their lives also while doing their job and fulfilling their moral obligations (Pandey, & Sharma, 2020).

The workers while working have to take care of ethical principles. They are autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence. The first principle which is beneficence, states that the healthcare workers or the healthcare professional will work for the best interest of the diseased patient. They should also strive for the best outcomes of the research by looking at the risks which are imposed on the patients. This principle is the core of medical research. If stated simply then it can be said that the healthcare workers should perform his duty to maximize the advantages and reduce the harm which could be done to the patients. The other things which come under beneficence are that no health provider should do any harm to the patient and in addition, should prevent the damage by removing it. In the case of coronavirus patients, the healthcare professionals should take decisions which would help the patient and his condition so that he can gain maximum advantage out of it. The clinicians should work to provide the patients with quality care and also that the damage that he/she might face get reduced (Weinbaum et al., 2018).

The other principle which is known as non-maleficence mentions that the relation between the physician and patient is fiduciary. This ethical code should be rooted deep inside the healthcare professional or any other worker so that he/she abstain themselves from imposing risk or actually harming the patient. The healthcare provider should work to prevent or stop the damage of the injury which is done to the patient. The harm does not only include the physical aspect but also damage to the patient’s privacy, dignity and liberty should also be retrained. The healthcare providers should not indulge in the activities which will annoy, offend, humiliate or cause any more discomfort to the patient. Healthcare workers and professionals should not physically violate or injured patients who are seeking treatment. In the case of coronavirus patient, the healthcare providers should behave in an appropriate manner and not harm the patient’s dignity or respect. They should also treat them with all honours and should be careful to not harm the emotion or psychological wellbeing of the patient (Motloba, 2019).

The third principle of ethical code is autonomy which requires acknowledging the capability of the patients to take their personal decisions. It is important that healthcare providers respect the patient’s choices while also keeping in mind what is best for them. This ethical code tells the healthcare practitioner or worker to work with the consent or permission of the patient and that the diseased individual knows all the decision which has been made for his welfare. The decisions should be made by partnering with the patient or his/her family members. Therefore, in the case of coronavirus patients, healthcare professionals should work in association with the patient or their family members so that decisions could be made that will give the necessary outcome (Owonikoko, 2013). Finally, the last ethical code which is justice demands that all the patients treated equally. The subjects should receive care in a manner which will only benefit them. This principle also demands that fair chances and opportunities be given to the patients. Besides this, the healthcare professional and workers should give quality care to the diseased individual in a fair and just manner. Therefore, for the patient suffering from coronavirus disease, it is important that the healthcare professional provide the utmost care in a just and honest manner(Owonikoko, 2013).

Hence, in this time it is essential that hospitals and institutes which provide care for the coronavirus patients like healthcare delivery organizations which consist of local and state health departments should very carefully monitor how to the prevent and protect the people who are working of the coronavirus patient's care. They should also focus mainly on older nurses and physicians who are playing their role in COVID-19 situations. It can be done by giving them responsibilities which would lower some risk for their lives as they are most susceptible to the COVID-19 disease. (Buerhaus, Auerbach&Staiger, 2020).

In the conclusion, it can be said that as the whole world is fighting from the pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, the frontline warriors are very much vulnerable to this disease. They are putting their lives in danger to prevent other people. COVID-19 has already cost many lives but to save others the healthcare professionals and workers are risking their own. This action performed by them is their moral duty which they have undertaken when they chose this noble profession to help people who are suffering. While working for the diseased individuals they might face moral or ethical challenges as they have obligations towards their own family too. Except in times like this, they have to prioritize their profession to help the community. For that, they have to work according to the four ethical principles which are beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice. The healthcare professionals have to help the coronavirus suffering patients by giving them the utmost care as it is their obligation. They need to make decisions which are beneficial for the coronavirus patients and do not harm them in any way. They also need to take care of the coronavirus patient's dignity and honour while treating them. With that, it is important for healthcare providers to make informed decisions by involving the COVID-19 patient or their family members. They also need to give the patient just and fair treatment. In return, healthcare institutions and governing bodies need to take care of these professionals. Therefore, in the end it can be said that healthcare professional and workers need to perform their duties as this is their moral obligation.

References for Moral Obligations and Healthcare Workers

Berlinger, N., Wynia, M., Powell, T., Hester, D. M., Milliken, A., Fabi, R., & Jenks, N. P. (2020). Ethical framework for health care institutions responding to novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) guidelines for institutional ethics services responding to COVID-19. Safeguarding Communities, Guiding Practice2.

Buerhaus, P. I., Auerbach, D. I., &Staiger, D. O. (2020).Older clinicians and the surge in novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Jama323(18), 1777-1778.

Motloba, P. D. (2019). Non-maleficence-a disremembered moral obligation. South African Dental Journal74(1), 40-42.

Owonikoko T. K. (2013). Upholding the principles of autonomy, beneficence, and justice in phase I clinical trials. The Oncologist18(3), 242–244. https://doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2013-0014

Pandey, S. K., & Sharma, V. (2020). A tribute to frontline corona warriors––Doctors who sacrificed their life while saving patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology68(5), 939.

Shen, K., Yang, Y., Wang, T., Zhao, D., Jiang, Y., Jin, R., Zheng, Y., Xu, B., Xie, Z., Lin, L., Shang, Y., Lu, X., Shu, S., Bai, Y., Deng, J., Lu, M., Ye, L., Wang, X., Wang, Y., Gao, L., … Global Pediatric Pulmonology Alliance (2020). Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in children: Experts' consensus statement. World Journal of Pediatrics : WJP16(3), 223–231.https://doi.org/10.1007/s12519-020-00343-7

Spoorthy, M. S., Pratapa, S. K., &Mahant, S. (2020). Mental health problems faced by healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic–A review. Asian Journal of Psychiatry51, 102119.

Weinbaum, C., Landree, E., Blumenthal, M. S., Piquado, T., & Gutierrez, C. I. (2018). Ethics in scientific research: An examination of ethical principles and emerging topics. RAND Corporation: Santa Monica ,United States.

World Health Organization, (2020).WHO coronavirus disease (COVID-19) dashboard. Available at https://covid19.who.int/

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