I want to explore empathy and bioethics, specifically the doctor and patient relationship. Under this relationship, I will look at specific medical issues, provide examples and use secondary sources. Bioethics is an emerging field with recent medical achievements. With new advancements in medicine, ethical questions about what people should and should not do are very relevant. Often, empathy is cast aside as people see medicine becoming more robotic and impersonal. However, I think empathy is extremely important between doctor and patient. University of Rochester’s Medical Center uses the biopsychosocial model in medical care, which empathizes a well-rounded approach to the patient, not just their physical state. Doctors address the backgrounds of patients, including their psychological, social and biological problems. I recently interviewed a doctor who prioritized listening to the patient and their needs in accordance with this model. From a secondary source, I found that there are four key bioethical considerations: autonomy, beneficence, nonmalificence (the idea of doing no harm) and justice. I will apply these four critical terms to each situation that I present. I will look at how the doctor-patient relationship fits into end of life issues, reproductive rights, genetic testing, and other bioethical issues. This connection between empathy and bioethics is relevant for this class because I want to show how many situations empathy can be used in. Empathy’s use in ethical issues is very interesting to me because it is so relevant to real-life situations.
The question I will answer is: Should empathy be the fifth bioethical consideration? I will argue that empathy is vital to a doctor-patient relationship. Even if the patient does not do what the doctor wants, the doctor must put himself in the patient’s shoes and respect the patient’s wishes, which goes hand in hand with autonomy. My answer is that empathy is so important to bioethics that I do think it should be included as the fifth ethical consideration. Adding this characteristic would completely change the field of bioethics because the emotions behind decisions would be addressed. Now, decisions are based on the patient wishes and what is best for society. However, with empathy, the emotions and reasons behind ethical decisions would be addressed, which is equally important as the decision itself.
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