Essay Sample on Moral Principles to Moral Dilemmas in Medicine

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1175 Words
Date:  2022-11-22


Moral principles are often used to analyze and solve ethical dilemmas in medicine. Considerations are however made on consequentialism, but the principles frameworks have limitations. In these difficult situations sometimes it is not always easy to determine the best consequence and judge the best principle whenever they conflict. Sometimes the framework does not allow or take into consideration of the emotions. In consideration of the motivations, relationships and emotional sensitivities which are unique to the human society thus providing an analysis that promotes flexibility and creation of solutions that consequentialism and principlism only.

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In medicine moral and ethical dilemmas are plenty. General practitioners often deal with these issues and dilemmas in their daily routines. From the distributive awareness of justice to the balance of terminally ill patients' choices. These can create moral dilemmas which can prove to be challenging to solve.

In this paper moral principles will be applied in the case of a patient who refuses treatment based on religion. A patient that is losing a lot caused by duodenal ulcer blood vessel bleeding rejects treatment. The best medical chance available to save his life involve blood transfusion and an operation to repair the bleeding blood vessel. The patient refuses a blood transfusion for religious purposes but agrees to the process but with the use of non-blood related products. It is significantly more risk for surgery to be done without blood transfusion as it is less likely that he will survive. In medicine, health care professionals are required to improve the patient's wellbeing, and in doing this, they must strike a balance between their knowledge and their patients' preferences. The health care professionals must always consider the patients' choice and means used to choose while ensuring that they do not violate the medical, moral code. The professional codes of practice that binds the doctors to emphasize on saving patients' lives and doing good.

The Kantian/Utilitarian Principle

The Kantian principle understands the ability to take up means in the attainment of the ends that we have often set for ourselves. In these case, the Kantian/utilitarian principle a person will think of the requirement of the respect for persons as long as the patient is in a position of giving consent. If the matter is considered from a perspective of universalizability of maxim, the refusal for blood transfusion even when the patients' life is at risk does not entail a maxim that contradicts the conception of the will. Kant's view is that it is logically possible for people to act on the maxim even in instances when the outcome is death (Gillon, 2015). Therefore, a contradiction in conception is existent not does it involve the doctor's contradiction of the patient's will in the sense that a person can rationally will in a world where a maxim can be universalized. In this case, the utilitarian principle will consider a blood transfusion because it is the only consequence that produces the best results for both the patient and the doctor. However, a refine pragmatic approach can be possible. The analysis is an act-utilitarianism because it considers approaches that produce the best results in the hospital situation. In this case, a rule utilitarian may consider and take into account ignoring the patient's request. However, the rule of ignoring the patient's request may not be recommended to the rule approach of utilitarianism.

After full exploration of the facts and consideration of the ethical sensitivities of the patient, it would be concluded that a trustworthy, compassionate and discerning doctor wound respect the requests and wishes of the patient in this situation. However, this does result in a rule. Virtue ethics are flexible and can access different conditions individually (Fletcher, 2015). Thus, searching for action guidance and consideration of what a person is supposed to do. The virtue ethics are fostered by ethical sensitivities and facts of the existing circumstance. These circumstances will allow for the creation of ethics to problems that are otherwise hard to solve and could be hard to explain when rules and principles are in the application. If for instance, in these case the patient decides because of an obligation to the religious community the moral assessment for the case would be different. Therefore, the doctor may determine that it will be virtuous to take a different course of action.

Nonmaleficence Principle

In these case, other principles support the different judgment which may require the healthcare personnel to override the will of the patient. Nonmaleficence principle requires the health care personnel to avoid the harm and therefore, withholding patient treatment for whatever reason causes harm to the patient. In this principle withholding treatment is considered to be an omission and not an action. The exclusion is a representation of the decision that has been taken by the healthcare professional and requires a course of action to be made.

Beneficence Principle

The principle of beneficence requires that people maximize the benefits and reduce the harms. This principle's application supports the healthcare professionals' duty to administer a blood transfusion, therefore, contravening the patients' refusal. The moral agents need to devise their answers while applying the preferred moral theories and considering the moral commitments that have been provided by the moral theories. The resolution of this dilemma conflicts respect of persons and beneficence principles. It is however clear that the principle of respect of persons requires the healthcare professionals to accede to the refusal of the patients' wishes of blood transfusion (Gillon, 2015). The calculus values of the patients the harm that results from blood transfusion can be higher as compared to the damage that will be caused by refusing a blood transfusion. Arguably this can be considered as a rational calculation for persons that believe in metaphysical scheme of the religion. If a person chooses eternal life over life on earth, then eternal salvation choice can be considered to be rational. From the religion's perspective refusing blood, transfusion balance is favorable benefits when compared to harms.

Nonblood treatment expense is dire and significant that it will warrant the health care professionals to override the wishes of the patient regarding financial cost-benefit assessment. The legal justice and rights-based justice advocates for the wishes of the patient to be respected and honored (Hammersley, 2015). Therefore, the principles will favor the conclusion and creation of an ethical solution to the ethical and moral dilemma and acknowledge the patient's refusal of blood transfusion. Although the solution to these case may be compelling regarding the moral and empirical presuppositions, an alternative analysis based on the ethical principles could come up with a different conclusion. This analysis gives weight on the patient's wishes thus resulting in respect of person principle.


Fletcher, J. F. (2015). Morals and medicine: The moral problems of the patient's right to know the truth, contraception, artificial insemination, sterilization, euthanasia. Princeton University Press.

Gillon, R. (2015). Defending the four principles approach as a good basis for good medical practice and therefore for good medical ethics. Journal of medical ethics, 41(1), 111-116.

Hammersley, M. (2015). On ethical principles for social research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(4), 433-449.

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Essay Sample on Moral Principles to Moral Dilemmas in Medicine. (2022, Nov 22). Retrieved from

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