Sample Case Study on Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative
Principlism is an ethical approach in nursing and healthcare that uses four critical principles to help healthcare practitioners apply correct actions in the practice. The four principles include beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, and respect for autonomy. These principles guide practicing nurses and other practitioners in the healthcare department to act with wisdom, professionalism, and utmost knowledge in executing their duties and functions. From the perspective of Christianity, the four principles are closely related to the bible teachings of loving and caring for each other in the society. These principles promote professionalism in the nursing practice. Consequently, these principles are critical for the improvement of the service provided by nurses but also on patient outcomes.
|Medical Indication – (Nonmaleficence and Beneficence Principles)
This is the act of doing good and right by patients at all times. All nurses and other health practitioners are required as a matter of ethics to execute their duties in ways that do not jeopardize patients ‘health and life. This principle is in line with the Christian teachings of love and care for one another. It includes:
Taking a patient’s history, diagnosis and prognosis
Creating a treatment plan – analyzing whether the condition is acute/chronic or if the condition is a reversible/irreversible pathology.
Developing the treatment goals and analyzing the chances of the success.
Developing alternative strategies for treatment in case the chosen treatment plan fails.
|Patient Choices (The Principle of autonomy)
Nurse must get informed consent from patients
Obeying the preferences of patients on treatment chosen.
Assessing the patient’s mental competency
Appropriate course of action in case of incapability
Evaluating and adhering to requests from patients
|The Quality of Life (autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence principles)
Probability of returning to normalcy.
Any deficits caused by the treatment plan chosen either physically, mentally or socially.
Any biases that negatively impacts the patient’s quality of life.
The patient’s condition in the future
The probability of palliative care
The Hippocratic Oath requires nurses to make sure that no intentional or unintentional harm occur to patients under their care. This principle is related to the Christian narrative of everyone acting in the best interest of others (being your brother’s keeper).
|Context (Justice and fairness principle)
Fair decisions on the patient’s treatment
Fair and justified influence on the treatment plans chosen
Observing religious requirements
Fairness in costs relating to patients’ consumption of medical services
Application of legal issues
Resolving any conflicts
Nurses must work autonomously in the best interest of the patients they care for. No undue influence or pressure should be exerted on nurses that might impact on their ability to justly and correctly execute their duties. For example, nurses must be allowed to form and make their own decisions, perspectives, beliefs, and values.
Part 2: Applying Principlism to the Christian Worldview
Christianity expects everyone to conduct themselves morally and ethically. Christian doctrines form the basis of Christian values, beliefs, and ethics. Principlism has a huge impact on critical factors such as decision-making, behavior, justice and fairness, and the ability to act properly without undue pressure or influence.
Autonomy is a powerful principle that acts as a strong defense against oppression. Without autonomy, nurses may be forced to act in ways that may result in poor choices or decisions. Similarly, Christianity allows people to make their own choices from an informed position. After having an understanding of the Christian teachings, it is incumbent upon every person to make choices between wrong-doing and doing right. Just like autonomy in the nursing profession, autonomy in contemporary Christianity forbids exerting pressure or influence or people to achieve a goal (Want, 2021). The bottom line is that while there are laws are regulations both in nursing and the contemporary Christian context, the principle of autonomy gives people/nurses the space to go about their lives without undue influence that may result in bad choices. It is incumbent on Christianity and the nursing fraternity to allow their members to develop their own decisions, perspectives, views, and opinions.
Like in the nursing context, Christianity highly holds the principle of justice. Justice means that resources must be equitably distributed to everyone regardless of their circumstance. In the nursing fraternity, each patient is accorded the same level of treatment, respect, and quality care (Wiśniewska, Grudowski, Marjańska, 2020). Similarly, in the Christian context, the Bible requires each person to act justly and to love and have mercy on other people. Thus, the Christian principle of Justice promotes fairness and equal treatment of everyone in the society. Similarly, the Bible expressly calls for all Christians to practice justice, fairness, and caring for one another.
- Non-maleficence and Beneficence
The term nonmaleficence refers to the obligation bestowed on every person not to inflict or bring harm on other people. On the other hand, beneficence requires every person to act justly for the benefit of other people. Combined, the principle of nonmaleficence and beneficence ensures that nurses act in a manner that prevents intentional and unintentional harm to patients (Motloba, 2019). Similarly, nurses have to act in a manner that positively impacts the health of their patients. In the contemporary Christian world, Christians are called upon to love and care for one another (Nahra, 2014).
The act of loving and caring for each other means that every person conducts themselves in a way that protects each other from harm. For example, in Psalms 82:3 the Bible says “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed” (Holy Bible New International Version, 2021). This verse is one of the many verses in the Bible that advocates against harming one another.
Looking at the above principles from the Christianity perspective, it is evident that there is a clear view of things. This view shows a consistent character, a coherence that has a sharp contrast with other theories or worldviews. The view portrayed in the above principles shows an understanding that builds an all-embracing system that espouses integrity, equality, and moral ethics regardless of one’s position, background, or status in the society. Whether referring to nurses or the contemporary world context, the principle of justice, maleficence, beneficence, and autonomy help people to conduct themselves in a manner that promotes peace, cohesion, equality, and justice among societies. While nursing promotes these principles as a critical part of nurses’ obligation to their duties, the Christian view promotes the principles as factors that help cultivate peace, love, unity, and cohesion in the society.
- Nahra, C. (2014). The harm principle and the greatest happiness principle: the missing link. Kriterion: Revista De Filosofia, 55(129), 99-110. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0100-512×2014000100006
- Wiśniewska, M., Grudowski, P., Marjańska, E. (2020). “Just Culture” From the Perspective of Nursing Personnel. Preprints, 2020030384. doi: 10.20944/preprints202003.0384.v1
- The Holy Bible-New International Version. (2021). What Does the Bible Say About Harming Others? Openbible.info. Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://www.openbible.info/topics/harming_others.
- Motloba, P. D. (2019). Non-maleficence – a disremembered moral obligation. South African Dental Journal, 74(1), 40-42. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2519-0105/2019/v74no1a7
- Want, T. (2021). What is the Nursing Code of Ethics?. Nurse.org. Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://nurse.org/education/nursing-code-of-ethics/.
- Want, T. (2021). What is the Nursing Code of Ethics? Nurse.org. Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://nurse.org/education/nursing-code-of-ethics/.