Medicine (MD/DO)
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Core Ethical Principles

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Core Ethical Principles

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Core Ethical Principles

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The physician should respect the patient's choices about their health-seeking or denial of healthcare. The patient has the right to refuse tests, medications, or any surgical interventions. The patient may also choose not to receive information about the disease prognosis or diagnosis.

Informed Consent
Informed Consent-signature

Consent obtained after providing the patient information about a procedure is informed consent. The patient's decision making capacity is assessed first. All the relevant risks, benefits, alternatives, and the nature of the intervention are disclosed. The patient can always choose to say no. Exceptions to informed consent include emergencies, situations in which the patient has altered decision-making capacity, waived consent, and therapeutic privilege.

Confidential Lock-and-key

The physician is bound to not reveal the patient's information to others. It upholds both the right to autonomy and privacy of the patient. Exceptions include medicolegal cases, infectious disease outbreaks, suicidal ideation, disclosure of an STD to a partner, and disclosure of disease to insurance companies.

Respect Patient Preferences
Patient with Preferences

A physician should respect patient preferences in accepting or not accepting medical care. It should be done to ensure better clinical outcomes, better adherence amongst patients, and avoid lawsuits.


This principle states that the physician should always act in the patient's best interest. However, autonomy prevails over beneficence when the patient chooses not to undertake a life-saving procedure.

Advocate and Act in Patient's Best Interest
Megaphone and Actor

The physician can serve as a patient advocate by acting in their best interests, assisting in decision-making about treatment, filing complaints on their behalf, ensuring access to treatment, or arranging referrals.


Do no harm to the patient. The benefits of an intervention should outweigh the risks. Here, harm/risk is evaluated contrary to perceived benefits.

Avoid Patient Injury
Avoid-sign Injured Patient

The physician should proceed with an intervention only if the benefits outweigh the risks. If the harm is more than the benefit, the intervention (either administering a drug or carrying out a surgery) should be withheld.


The patient should be treated fairly and equitably. By fairly, we imply rightly and reasonably. The 6 Rights of the patients are as follows: The right patient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route, and the right time.
Equitable is not synonymous with equal and resource allocation is as per the requirements of the patients.

Treat Patients Equitably
Treat Being Distributed Equitably

Equality means giving equal access to resources, while equity refers to distributing resources based on the needs of each person. For example, during disasters, patients are classified as red, yellow, green, blue, or black triage. Resources and personnel are allocated according to the needs of the patient. As red triage needs emergency interventions more personnel and resources are recruited.


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