Ethical issues in health care
'Science goes forward only through new ideas and creative thought.' 1
Few would argue that progress in biomedical research has not benefited humankind during the last century. From this has arisen the knowledge which has dramatically improved not only the quality and duration of life, but also the morbidity and mortality associated with some diseases previously known to cause profound suffering, or to obliterate entire populations. Although its benefits are acknowledged, the nature and evolution of experimentation on human subjects has always raised ethical questions. These must be subjected to critical appraisal by the health care professional engaged in research and by the consumer who may be approached as a potential participant. In the main, these questions relate to principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence, which have been considered in Chapters 4-6 and are reviewed here in the context of health care research.
A number of professional bodies have evolved their own guidelines for health care professionals engaged in researc; in the UK these are the Royal College of Nursing,