Importance of teaching ethics in Brazilian Medical Schools

Stethoscope

(Marcelo Leal, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Angela Theresa Zuffo Yabrude, currently a second-year medical student at the Regional University of Blumenau, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The dichotomy that exists between good and evil. The tenuous line between right and wrong. Choices. Decisions that make the minds of the youth, future doctors, who are exposed daily to ambiguous and delicate situations inserted in a specific context and that require the physician’s decision making, who is responsible for the situation.

The lack of building an ethical basis, as well as the lack of knowledge of the norms proposed by the Federal Council of Medicine, are the main causes of mistaken decisions, which took greater dimensions when involves a modern technological range, being it  through misusing a more sophisticated treatment, or the simple difficulty of separating erroneous information as well as avoiding its dissemination in social networks and the exposure of the patient.

Indecision, insecurity, failures, misconduct, in general, are taken for lack of information about the actual damage of certain decisions and are reflections of the shortage of guidance of academics in their respective medical schools on conducts that go beyond the Pathology.

Thus, investment in medical education should have a theoretical focus that allows the student to establish an individual medical ethic in which it encompasses concrete decisions without being influenced by the range of random information that is received virtually. The individual, according to Kant’s vision, must act in a way that treats individuals similarly in similar cases, without considering emotional involvement. Furthermore, to have an appropriate ethical medical conduct, the 4 principles of bioethics must be respected.

The first of them is Beneficence which preaches the physician’s moral obligation to cause good in his intentions and his actions. Second consists of the Non-Maleficence that defends decision making that doesn’t affect the individual causing harm, thus, the abstention of care can be an act seen as more positive than the application of risky treatments for the patient’s life.

The third principle, Justice, defends the universal health right for all individuals preaching equality and equity and is also the main principle that bases the Unified Health System (SUS). Finally, the Autonomy of the patient and the doctor should be respected, as well as the patient’s right to know all his clinical states and to have an active voice in the treatment decisions.

As well as the opinion about the exposure of his case, the Autonomy of the physician refers to the right to refuse to perform any procedure as long as it does not leave the patient unaided, that is, have another professional in the qualified place to accomplish whatever is necessary. All acts should aim at Efficiency and better effect with less expense and possible damage.

Therefore, by strengthening the teaching of medical ethics in universities and hospitals, would help to construct concepts of basic ethics, such as the aforementioned. The academic will then establish an individual conduct in certain situations without being affected by erroneous information and, therefore, situations of divergence and damage to both, the physician and the patient, would be reduced and all benefited.

References

WANSA, Maria do Carmo Demassi. Autonomy versus beneficence. Bioethics Magazine. 2011. Pages 105-116;

PENA, Moira Maxwell; DUARTE, A.; COHN, Claudio; OLIVEIRA, Reinaldo; Conception of the principle of non-maleficence and its relations with prudence. Bioethics Magazine, 2012. Pages 78-86;

About the author

Angela Theresa Zuffo Yabrude is currently a second-year medical student at the Regional University of Blumenau, Brazil. She is 20 years old and is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) where she works as Vice President for Internal Affairs of the Local committee of IFMSA Brazil FURB. She is involved in research and scientific publication, especially in areas of global health and medical education.

 

 

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