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Autonomy The definition of Autonomy is the ability of an individual to make a rational, un-influenced decision. Therefore, it can be said that autonomy is a general indicator of health. The progression of many terminal diseases are characterized by loss of autonomy, in various manners. For example, dementia almost always results in the loss of autonomy. Dementia is a chronic and progressive disease that attacks the brain and affects the ability to make judgments, can induce memory loss, cause a decrease in rational thinking and affect orientation.
Beneficence The term beneficence refers to actions that promote the well being of others. In the medical context, this means taking actions that serve the best interests of patients. However, uncertainty surrounds the precise definition of which practices do in fact help patients. Non-maleficence (Least Harm)
The concept of non-maleficence is embodied by the phrase, “first, do no harm,” or the Latin, primum non nocere. Many consider that should be the main or primary consideration (hence primum): that it is more important not to harm your patient, than to do them good. This is partly because enthusiastic practitioners are prone to using treatments that they believe will do good, without first having evaluated them adequately to ensure they do no (or only acceptable levels of) harm. It is not only more important to do no harm than to do good; it is also important to know how likely it is that your treatment will harm a patient.
So a physician not prescribe medications they know to be harmful. In practice, however, many treatments carry some risk of harm. In some circumstances, e.g. in desperate situations where the outcome without treatment will be grave, risky treatments that stand a high chance of harming the patient will be justified, as the risk of not treating is also very likely to do harm. So the principle of non-maleficence is not absolute, and balances against the principle of beneficence (doing good), as the effects of the two principles together often give rise to a double effect
Double effect refers to two types of consequences that may be produced by a single action, and in medical ethics it is usually regarded as the combined effect of beneficence and non-maleficence.
The justice ethical principle states that decision makers should focus on actions that are fair to those involved. This means that ethical decisions should be consistent with the ethical theory unless extenuating circumstances that can be justified exist in the case. This also means that cases with extenuating circumstances must contain a significant and vital difference from similar cases that justify the inconsistent decision.
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