Hospitals Without Consulting Rooms : An Ethical Assessment of Physician-Patient Relationshop in Medical Internet

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Centrum för tillämpad etik


The physician -patient relationship is fundamental to medical and healthcare practice. It is value laden. The practice of medicine and healthcare in the traditional sense accentuates a fecund doctor-patient communication. This is considered a necessary step for a proper diagnosis towards an attendant fruitful prognosis. Such a practise eventuates in the recognition of core values within the ambience of a standard medical practise. The values in question refer to issues of commitment and trust, obligations to standard care giving and reception, confidentiality, autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, justice as well as responsibility. However, the practise of medicine today is criss-crossed by an amazing cast of transformations with the advent of the internet in the medical arena. Medical encounters take place online between doctors and patients even in the absence of pre-existing medical relationships in the hospitals.

There is today treatments and medical care mediated by the internet, a case of diagnosis and prognosis across distance, and indeed super highway medicine. This instance of hospitals without consulting rooms is morally problematic.

By the characterization of physician-patient relationship ( especially in the absence of pre-existing relationship) on the internet as virtual, unique, new and problematic, this work assesses the risks associated with such encounters in the light of ethical principles and their implications for moral responsibility.

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