How essential is morality to health care practice?

Medicine – Still a Noble profession?
His New Profession

His New Profession (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

COUNTER POINT

DR FIAZ FAZILI

Over centuries, the Medical fraternity has maintained the ethical standards. Their magnificent contributions and landmark discoveries in medical sciences and innovations in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques have revolutionized patient care, saved countless lives, and significantly improved longevity and the quality of human life. Beyond its scientific and technical contributions, medicine is uniquely fulfilling as a, ‘Noble profession’. In return, it has been accorded the respect of society, of other professions as a noble profession imbued with eminence, dignity, high ideals, and ethical values.
In the recent past, unfortunately, there has been a sharp decline in the ethical conduct of some of the medical practitioners. Materialistic influence has produced highly selfish mentality; and while engaging in professional activities at times they lose sight of the ethical, human, and noble values of their profession.
The principles and responsibilities of medical professionalism must be clearly understood by both the professionals and the society. Essential to this contract is public trust in Doctors which depends on the integrity of both individual physicians and the whole profession. I know, and many people in society will acknowledge that most physicians are good and the scared relationship between patient and doctors which has existed since ages will not perish with certain aberrations here or there. This doesn’t mean all the doctors are noble, as with any profession, we do have many bad apples that need appropriate treatment – some physicians are greedy. We all agree medicine arose out of primary sympathy of human kind and a desire to help those in sickness. This   relationship arises out of the pain and suffering of one person and an offer of hope by another and, factually, most of the doctors are fulfilling this obligation. It is unfortunate that we have begun calling the Medical professionals as “businessmen in an industry” – it somehow undermines and discourages the dedication of the majority of  Medical professionals involved in care of  the patients, and   denigrates the “noble profession”. Society in general and patients in particular may also play a part in this discontent; Physicians are constantly faced with patients and their relatives who have begun to respond in high tech ways. Amidst the menace of dangerous practice of self- medication prevailing in the valley, some patients after going through web acquire some knowledge of disease and required tests and feel that if a practitioner does not prescribe a fancy new test, he or she is not updated.
At present, the Medical profession is confronted by an explosion of ‘technicalization’, specialization and commercialization. Despite initiatives by authorities health care remains as an over-promised, over-burdened, over-spent, but not “overhauled sector. At times we are facing shortage of resources due to dearth of beds or care providers (Specialists and paramedics) or   modern machinery. In such an atmosphere dedicated physicians find it increasingly difficult to meet the expectations of   patients from giving the standard care they need. These challenges center on increasing disparities among the legitimate needs of patients, the available resources to meet those needs, the increasing dependence on market forces to transform health care systems, and the temptation for physicians to forsake their traditional commitment to the primacy of patients’ interests. In these circumstances, reaffirming the fundamental and universal principles of primacy of patient welfare and values of medical professionalism, which remain ideals to be pursued by all physicians, becomes all the more important. This principle is based on a dedication to serving the interest of the patient.
The medical profession everywhere is embedded in diverse cultures and local constraints.  Market forces, societal pressures, and administrative exigencies must not compromise this principle. I am confident that medical profession is still a noble profession and the sacred bond between patients and practioners and will endure despite new storms.  Even in these uncertain times I continue to believe in the innate moral strength and humanity of my profession.

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