The Uncertainty Of Ethics In Medicine

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate March 2002

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Within the last decade, the field of medicine has made some major strides. Things believed to be impossible are now a reality. People are able to live longer productive lives, and the quality of life has improved. With all these added benefits there is a cost. Extending people's lives does bring up some complications. Everyday doctors are faced with ethical decisions and there needs to be a standard. More specifically, this would include the value of life and patients having the right to die. Ethical issues in medicine need to be looked at more closely and redefined; Medical professionals need to have a standard for their decision making. It is evident that the value of human life varies, and we need to examine the surrounding issues from an ethical standpoint.

The first area to gain attention deals with the value of life. Some previous views assumed the value of all life was equal.

Most of these assertions were taken from a more philosophical view, so they didn't apply to all situations. When closely looking at all cases, these assertions don't seem practical. Singer writes that "life without consciousness is of no worth at all"� (455). While this idea may seem a little extreme, it does bring up a good point. Due to many medical advances, we are able to extend life. Machines can keep people with no brain activity alive for weeks, even years. By looking at some people's definition of life, a person in this state may still be considered alive. In reality though, these people aren't living. In order to live, a person needs to have mental, social, or some physical interactions. If for some reason they can't, there needs to be the potential for this to happen. Without these basic fundamentals, we feel as nurses that we...