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Essay Paper on Health Care Ethics

Recent years Health Care ethics becomes one of the most important issues in medical practice. This situation is closely connected with development of gene engineering, cloning and ethical standards applied by other sciences. The paper is aimed to examine and discuss the role of genetic information disclosure and its legal and ethical implications which a practitioner faces in today’s society.Health Care ethics can be defined as the rules of moral values that guide decision making by medical staff. They are a per¬son’s fundamental orientation toward life, what a person sees as right and wrong. Ethical responsibilities of a practitioner are how its decisions and actions show concern for what is considering fair and just. Medial ethics mean more than simply passing moral judgment about what should and should not be done in a particular situation. It is part of the conscious decisions a practitioner makes about the directions and consequences of his decisions. It is a link between morality, responsibility, and decision making.

The question of genetic information is important because the use of information about genetic variability in relation to health or social security raises fundamental questions of discrimination against those with genetic risks and of confidentiality of personal health information. “As genetic testing becomes increasingly sophisticated, more and more people will have access to (and have to make decisions on) genetic information that could have implications for their relatives’ health”. There are three specific manifestations of the ‘new’ genetics:

  1. the regulation of the use of information derived from genetic testing, taking merely as an example the use by the insurance market;
  2. questions raised by information derived from an individual’s genetic make-up, including in this context consent, especially where children are concerned;
  3. the particular application of that knowledge in the context of abortion based on fetal anomalies.

Understanding of polygenic conditional predispositions to diseases is growing. Mapping the genome may increase the scientific and medical ability to predict, understand and eventually to prevent or to cure human diseases. This also gives rise to questions as to how this information should be used, and the necessary background laws and norms that will either be applied or will become more clearly perceived to direct and control, to regulate the use of this information, either by individuals or by societies generally.  Urging continued vigilance in respect of those who would make use of genetic knowledge for personal, political or economic interests and leverage, it is possible to speak about endlessly shifting balances of power that are the inevitable consequence of scientific knowledge and its application.

With the advances in the scope and reliability of genetic testing, information relating to an individual’s genetic predisposition will be of considerable use to a potential insurer in that such information is indicative of the risk to the insurer that that individual represents. More than that, the influence that this knowledge, directly and indirectly, could exert over lifestyle and life choices is manifest and major.  A practitioner should be well aware of genetic information and possible risks of its disclosure. Its important because genetic knowledge is a form of information technology, and as such it poses three types of disquiet: 1) in facilitating intrusions on personal privacy; 2) in providing the means for institutions to exercise particular forms of control; and 3) in encouraging practices that threaten certain values. Allied with the biotechnological imperative information technologies can directly affect particular economic interests; they may be a source of risk, and for some, they are a moral threat.

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