You probably faced a clinical issue today with an ethical component. Did you recognize it? Did you know how to address it? Did you have an organized framework? Did you know what to say to the patient and their family? Did you know what to do? Did you feel comfortable and confident in this aspect of your clinical practice? This book seeks to address how greater recognition of ethical issues and their resolution can improve patient care, research practices, and institutional arrangements.
What is bioethics?
Bioethics, while a modern term, is as old as medicine itself. The Code of Hammurabi and the Hippocratic Oath, for instance, include provisions concerning the importance of ethical considerations to clinical practice. In addition to its initial focus on ethical issues relevant to clinical care, bioethics concerns the moral, legal, political, and social issues raised by medicine, biomedical research, and life sciences technologies.
While bioethical considerations will remain a central aspect of medicine, it can do so at different levels. One can distinguish between three broad spheres of bioethics. The first is academic bioethics, a sphere primarily focused on how theoretical and practical aspects of medicine affect considerations such as special obligations or responsibilities of clinicians, what is valuable, good, right, etc. in the biomedical context and how one might go about providing systematic accounts of such considerations.