This essay will examine the moral theories and principles that inform ethical decision making in healthcare and social setting

This essay will examine the moral theories and principles that inform ethical decision making in healthcare and social setting. This will be followed by a brief definition of the moral theories and ethical principles and the essay will focus on both theories and ethical principles linking the ethical dilemmas in healthcare. Secondly, the essay will consider the role of the nurse in relation to the law, ethics and professionalism. Furthermore, it will explore on how ethical theories and principles underpin the ethical dilemmas, and these will include principles of autonomy, justice, Beneficence and non-maleficence. Lastly, the essay will demonstrate an understanding and importance of professional regulations i.e. Nursing and Midwifery Council the Code, trust policies and procedures into accountability of a nurse.
There three moral theories and four ethical principles that helps the healthcare in decision making, and these are deontology theory, utilitarian theory and virtue theory. And the four ethical principles are autonomy, beneficence, justice and non-maleficence. According to Buka (2008), ethics refers to the analysis of matters of right and wrong, whereas morals refer to actual beliefs and behaviours. However, Butts and Rich (2016, pp.4 – 5), “defines ethics as the branch of philosophy used to study ideal human behaviour and ideal ways of being”. In healthcare there are moral theories and ethical frameworks that has an important influence on health care practice, theory can provide individuals with guidance in moral thinking and reasoning, as well as justification for moral actions (Butts and Rich, 2016). And these theories are Deontology theory, Virtue theory and Utilitarian theory along with the four ethical principles Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence and Justice.
According to Beauchamp and Childress (2013), deontology theory emphasizes one’s duty rather than the consequences of one’s actions, it focused on duties and rules. Deontological (duty-based) ethics are concerned with what people do, not with the consequences of their actions (Beauchamp and Childress 2013). While Virtue theory is about the virtues that make for the good life. Butts and Rich (2016), defines Virtue as the ethics that emphasizes the excellence of one’s character. According to Phillips (2006), utilitarian emphasizes the consequences of one’s actions in regard to achieving the most good for the most people affected by a rule or action, greatest good for greater number of people. An example of this theory is vaccination laws, individuals liberties are limited so the larger society is protected from diseases and the consequences is that people are happier because they are free of diseases.
Utilitarian claims to provide a secure basis for moral decision making, it is not clear that is what is provided in practice. For example, utilitarian refrains from telling the truth to patient or patient’s relatives, claiming so doing would be a disutility. Likewise, William (1973), points out that from the Utilitarian perspective certain acts seem obviously right. For instance, suppose one could save the lives of ten people but only by killing one person. Even if that is indeed morally right. Despite initial attractions, it appears that there are certain serious worries which accompany whole endorsement of utilitarianism. In healthcare setting, it could be argued that adoption of utilitarian ethics encourages acceptance of which perhaps should be questioned.
Beauchamp and Childress (2013), describes autonomy as an obligation to respect the choices which others make concerning their own lives. Hence, if a cognitively competent patient chooses, based on relevant information, not to take medication prescribed, then the principles of respect for autonomy generates an obligation on the part of others to respect that choice. While, beneficence generates an obligation to act in ways which promotes the wellbeing of others (Edwards, 2002).