Introduction to Ethics in Medicine

Assessments and therapeutic measures used in medical and therapeutic practice are determined by the values and basic assumptions of one’s view of the human being. Elderly patients in intensive care challenge us in our therapeutic decision-making process, while cancer patients are faced with decisions regarding the often limited effectiveness of the systemic therapy recommended to them. Therapeutically relevant questions are not just concerned with what is “effective” and potentially “feasible”, but with what is beneficial for the patient, i.e. with what he or she considers to be “good”. The three pillars of David Sacket’s evidence-based medicine – external evidence, individual expertise and patient preference – only become complete when a positive patient benefit assessment is included.
Basic concepts of illness and recovery, the patient-doctor relationship and ethical decision-making all depend on the doctor’s view of the human being and are weighted against and determined by it.

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