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It is the divine nature of human beings to form relationships. In line with the healthcare profession, doctor-patient interaction is a significant necessity for improving the quality of healthcare provided by medical personnel so long the parties mutually trust and respect each other. Patients have to believe that healthcare providers are competent in their job and provide all necessary information to facilitate targeted medical intervention for that particular illness (Jackson, 2019). Similarly, doctors and all persons in the medical profession should believe that the patient knows best what is ailing him or her, and therefore adhere to the relationship formed by the professionals and the patients to diagnose the clients with utmost professionalism and comfort as necessary.
This paper considers the ethical issues about doctor-patient relationships and evaluates the ethical principles, moral theories, and the regulatory framework governing doctor-patient interaction in a healthcare setting. The primary stakeholders in this healthcare problem analysis are the doctors, nurses, and patients. Chipidza et al. (2015) stated that patient’s regard towards healthcare professionals, trust, loyalty, and the professionals’ knowledge concerning patients’ problems forms the basis of positive doctor-patient relationships.
The same sentiments have been proffered by Jackson (2019. The author stated that doctor-patient relationships have many vulnerabilities that impact healthcare services offered by the medical staff (Jackson, 2019). Especially in modern times, the type of bonds formed by the healthcare professionals and their patients have come under significant scrutiny. These activities have led to great ethical and moral discussions that have all led to the development of ethical principles and moral guidelines to watch over personal and professionals relationships within the healthcare industry.
Ethical Principles and Moral Theories
Most people in the medical field prefer to treat patients as inanimate objects (Chipidza et al., 2015). Forming this type of relationship implies that the patients, doctors, and nurses have no personal bonds. The sole purpose of the interaction is to find a cure for the common healthcare problem, and no further communication is extended by the parties involved.
The guidance-cooperation model also dictates ethical principles prevailing in the doctor-patient relationship. Due to professional medical knowledge, doctors and nurses situate to conduct that which is right (Lim et al., 2018). The morality of this model is that patients listen and adhere to the guidance given by the medical staff and comply without questioning or restraint.
The other ethical principle governing the healthcare problem in this analysis is mutual participation. Nichter (2018) stated that the theory of cooperation relates to modern medical approaches to diagnose health problems. Healthcare professionals view the patients as experts in their lives. Hence they know best what ails them as well as the best mode of treatment for their illness. Similarly, the theory credits the healthcare professional with medical expertise to find the best cure for the patients. With mutual participation, both parties reach a consensus and settle on the best course of action to ensure the patients get well.
Castlen et al. (2017) noted that the regulatory frameworks about the doctor-patient relationships are construed in the professional code of ethics and morality as practiced by the healthcare professionals. Nursing professional codes set the foundations for nurses and patients to interact, and the same code aims for professionalism in healthcare provision. Also, policy frameworks in the healthcare industry, as with many professional fields, require doctors and all other healthcare professionals to declare any potential conflicts of interest that will impair the effective delivery of healthcare services. Additionally, Thistlethwaite (2018) reported that professionalism is the most significant basis to govern patient-doctor relationships.
The patient-doctor link has a long-standing impact on the quality of care within this particular industry. It is a global problem within the healthcare industry. Institutional policies that permit familial interactions and personal relationships within the healthcare environment contribute to impaired judgments in this field. Rimondini et al. (2019) further stated that effective communication procedures within healthcare environments also have a bearing on positive doctor-patient relationships.
Resolving doctor-patient relationship issues, though seemingly easy to accomplish, presents a problematic ethical problem in the healthcare industry. However, doctors and patients should form professional and controlled personal bonds. The formation of such relations will empower the medical profession, and the sector will boost its effectiveness in resolving health problems. The solution to this predicament is for concerned stakeholders to know when the relationship gets toxic to impair professionalism within the healthcare setup. As such, all parties should practice prudence to evaluate the value of care offered by the medical staff and the level of interaction prevailing in the efforts of both parties to attain mutual health benefits.
The resources to be deployed to solve this problem are adherence to professionalism and the patients' understanding of the limitations set by the ethical principles and codes within the healthcare profession. To effectively ensure this mutual understanding of the relational restrictions in this field, healthcare institutions should inform clients of the personal limitations to be adhered to by all parties responsible for restoring the health of the patients. In addition, healthcare organizations should monitor communication aspects within the healthcare environment as medium and factors of communication impact the type of relationship formed between patients and doctors. Hogan et al. (2018) stated that the call to the institutional understanding of the principal stakeholders' cultural backgrounds in this ethical scenario dictates the type of communication the healthcare professionals will prefer while interacting with their clients.
Summary and Conclusion
The healthcare industry is a people-centered profession. This statement implies that there will be no healthcare profession; the industry does not deal with and relate to humans. However, the problem of the matter arises from the interactive nature of human beings. As a social being, patients and doctors are bound by ethical codes of professionalism to form relationships due to their innate nature of persons to socialize and interact. That being the case; therefore, caution should be taken by all stakeholders not to affect the primary concern of the healthcare industry. The purpose and goal of healthcare professionals are to ensure quality living for the individuals and to provide quality healthcare services to those persons who come seeking healthcare services.
Through the application of mutual participation, doctors and patients should form meaningful relationships that aim to improve the quality of service offered by the healthcare profession. This principle calls for all persons and stakeholders to create professional bonds for the betterment of the healthcare industry. As such, doctors and patients, as the primary stakeholders in this analysis, should restrict personal relationships within the healthcare environment. Professionalism should prevail in all situations.
Castlen, J. P., Cote, D. J., Moojen, W. A., Robe, P. A., Balak, N., Brennum, J., ... and Broekman, M. L. (2017). The changing health care landscape and implications of organizational ethics on modern medical practice. World neurosurgery, 102, 420-424. "https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2017.03.073" \h https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2017.03.073
Chipidza, F. E., Wallwork, R. S., and Stern, T. A. (2015). Impact of the doctor-patient relationship. The primary care companion for CNS disorders, 17(5). https://dx.doi.org/10.4088%2FPCC.15f01840
Hogan, T. P., Luger, T. M., Volkman, J. E., Rocheleau, M., Mueller, N., Barker, A. M., ... and Bokhour, B. G. (2018). Patient centeredness in electronic communication: evaluation of patient-to-health care team secure messaging. Journal of medical Internet research, 20(3), e82. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.8801
Jackson, G. L. (2019). A cross-sectional study of the doctor-patient relationship among women in California. California State University, Long Beach.
Lim, A. G., North, N., and Shaw, J. (2018). Beginners in prescribing practice: Experiences and perceptions of nurses and doctors. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(5-6), 1103-1112. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.14136
Nichter, M. (2018). Global health. The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea2174
Rimondini, M., Mazzi, M. A., Busch, I. M., and Bensing, J. (2019). You only have one chance for a first impression! Impact of patients’ first impression on the Global Quality Assessment of doctors’ communication approach. Health communication, 34(12), 1413-1422. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1495159
Thistlethwaite, J., & Spencer, J. (2018). Professionalism in medicine. CRC Press.
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