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Medical Ethicsa 

Medical Ethicsa
Medical Ethicsa

Keith M. Swetz

, C. Christopher Hook

, and Paul S. Mueller

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date: 17 January 2021

Medicine is first and foremost a relationship-a coming together of a patient, who is ill or has specific needs, and a physician, whose goal is to help the patient. The physician-patient relationship is a fiduciary relationship; physicians have knowledge, skills, and privileges that patients do not have. In turn, patients trust that physicians act in their patients' best interests. Medical ethics consists of a set of principles and systematic methods that guide physicians on how they ought to act in their relationships with patients and others and how to resolve moral problems that arise in the care of patients. These principles and methods are based on moral values shared by both the lay society (which may vary from culture to culture) and the medical profession. This chapter has four goals: identify the four prima facie principles of medical ethics, relate the tension among the four principles to common ethical dilemmas in clinical medical practice, investigate the intersection of medical ethics and the law by examining major cases, and examine ethical principles governing medical care at the end of life.

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