Beneficence in Medicine
I. In my judgment, the physician and care team should give general anesthesia to Ms. R. and perform the Pap smear.
II. The ethical principle that best supports my position is beneficence.
III. Beneficence can be defined as acts of mercy and charity, but can be expanded to include any act that benefits another (Edge & Groves, 1999). The three statements of beneficence as stated by Edge & Groves (1999) are: 1.
One ought to prevent evil or harm.
One ought to remove evil or harm.
One ought to do or promote good.
Nonmaleficence is the ethical principle of doing no harm (Edge & Groves, 1999). Health care professionals have a moral obligation to provide patients with net medical benefits with minimal harm, or beneficence with nonmaleficence. That which is considered a benefit to one patient may be considered harm to another. Each patient must be considered on an individual basis when determining what will benefit them the most. The patient's personal needs and values must be considered. Anytime we try to help others, we risk harming them. Much of what health care professionals do has unintended side effects. The good intentions need to equal or outweigh the harmful effects (Edge & Groves, 1999).
IV. In the case of Ms. R., the risks and benefits must be weighed. Routine gynecologic care is an important aspect of health care for all women. Mentally handicapped women have special needs when it comes to gynecologic care. Ms. R. has limited verbal skills, which makes her unable to express concerns about symptoms. Ms. R. was resistant and uncooperative when gynecologic care was attempted on her. Previous difficult pelvic exams or limited ability to understand what was going on may have been the cause. She felt threatened by the experience for some reason. Ms. R. may also have physical disabilities that would limit mobility, which could make the exam even more difficult.
Pap smears and pelvic exams test for cervical and ovarian...
References: Edge, R. S., & Groves, J. R. (1999). Ethics of health care: A guide for clinical practice (2nd ed.). Albany, NY: Delmar .
Reproductive health care for the mentally handicapped. (1997, September). Retrieved October 1, 2005, from Contraception Online Web site: http://www.contraceptiononline.org/contrareport/article01.cfm?art=31#top
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