Ethics in Midwifery

Ethics in Midwifery

Ethics in Midwifery

Ethics in Midwifery

Synopsis

This book examines the principles and realities of ethics in midwifery practice today. It explains basic ethical theory, looking at how dilemmas occur and the ethical bases on which conflicts can be resolved. Through a series of case studies, options and issues for consideration are reviewed, particularly in areas of increasing concern and debate such as confidentiality, autonomy, screening, abortion, assisted conception and withholding treatment. This book is valuable to all students and practicing midwives who need to understand the principles and practice of ethics, especially how to apply ethical thought and action in their own day-to-day work.

Excerpt

In today's maternity services ethical issues are everywhere, and yet there is often a poor understanding of how practitioners deal with them. Many qualified midwives, while asserting that they are ethical in their work, might be hard pressed to define what this means in practice. An ethical approach is often assumed, as if practitioners are somehow socialised in such a way that ethical practice becomes second nature. This is a mistaken approach. It ignores the complexity of contemporary maternity care, and disregards the changing emphases between the pregnant woman and those who work within the health service. It also overlooks important developments in health care law.

In recent years there has been a drive to provide choice and promote autonomy for pregnant women. In a world with unlimited resources, such a drive would be relatively uncomplicated. In today's comparatively cash-constrained health service, restrictions are placed on the scope for achieving autonomy and exercising choice. The time available for discussions with each pregnant woman is limited. What do midwives do when faced with limited resources or conflicting choices?

This revised edition provides an accessible account of the theories used in ethical discussions, and then presents a series of case studies. These require the reader to decide how practical problems may be dealt with in an ethical manner. This combination of the theoretical and the practical will provide the reader with a sound basic understanding of ethical concepts, and an appreciation of how different people may approach a given clinical situation. While ethics is seen by some as a theoretical issue, to be debated in classrooms and conferences, the everyday import of ethical decision-making means that the theory—practice gap needs to be bridged. This book will help the reader to do this. Using role play in the classroom to enact the case studies may help students to become more aware of the different approaches that may be adopted.

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