This blog post discusses about What is Beneficence.
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What Is Beneficence?
Beneficence means that all medical practitioners have a moral duty to promote the course of action that they believe is in the best interests of the patient. Often, it’s simplified to mean that practitioners must do good for their patients – but thinking of it in such a simplistic way can be problematic.
It’s better to think of beneficence as the process of ranking the available options for the patient from best to worst, taking into consideration the following aspects:
- Will this option resolve this patient’s medical problem?
- Is it proportionate to the scale of the medical problem?
- Is this option compatible with this patient’s individual circumstances?
- Is this option and its outcomes in-line with the patient’s expectations of treatment?
You will notice that several considerations are concerned with the patient’s expectations or circumstances. This is also known as holistic or patient-centric care.
It is important to bear the patient’s expectations in mind when ranking treatments because when we refer to doing “good” we are not simply referring to what is medically good for the patient, but also what is acceptable to the human being we are treating.
Why Is Beneficence Important?
Beneficence is important because it ensures that healthcare professionals consider individual circumstances and remember that what is good for one patient may not necessarily be great for another.
You may be given an ethical scenario to consider during your interview. For example:
An eight-year-old child has been admitted to hospital with a significant open fracture to their left leg. The limb is deformed with significant bleeding and the patient is extremely distressed. The parents are demanding immediate action be taken.
There are a number of options for treatment here, but let’s take an extreme one – amputation.
If the bleeding is life-threatening, the limb sufficiently injured and the risk of infection extremely high, then amputation could be a treatment option. It would be “good” for the patient in as much as the injury would be resolved and the threat to life from bleeding or infection somewhat reduced.
But let’s consider the implications of amputation. The treatment would result in a life-changing injury and the risks of infection or massive bleeding aren’t proportionate. The limitations to their physical movement also carry other future risks that could inadvertently result in further physical and mental health issues.
Most important of all, there are other interventions available to us that have better outcomes attached. Using blood products to manage the bleeding, reducing the fracture if possible and orthopaedic surgery if necessary will have better outcomes for this patient. That course of action is “more good” than amputation.
It’s a rather severe example but also helps demonstrate an important point. Beneficence asks us to promote a course of action, but in practice, we also need to de-promote certain courses of action if there are better options available.
Discussing Beneficence At Interview
When you’re talking about ethical issues, you need to consider beneficence. You should think about the following things:
- Have you thoroughly considered every option and weighed up what the best course of action is for the specific patient in the scenario?
- Does the best course of action align with patient expectation?
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1. What does beneficence mean in health care?
Beneficence. The principle of beneficence is the obligation of physician to act for the benefit of the patient and supports a number of moral rules to protect and defend the right of others, prevent harm, remove conditions that will cause harm, help persons with disabilities, and rescue persons in danger.
2. What is a meaning of beneficence?
The quality or state of doing or producing good : the quality or state of being beneficent admired for her beneficence. 2 : benefaction bestow your beneficences generously— W. L. Sullivan.
3. What is beneficence vs Nonmaleficence?
Nonmaleficence (do no harm) Obligation not to inflict harm intentionally; In medical ethics, the physician’s guiding maxim is “First, do no harm.” Beneficence (do good) Provide benefits to persons and contribute to their welfare. Refers to an action done for the benefit of others.
4. What is beneficence and Nonmaleficence in nursing?
Beneficence: a principle stating that nurses work to give patients the best care possible. Nonmaleficence: states that one should do no harm and promote good care. Code of Ethics: ethical nursing standards as defined by the American Nurses Association (ANA)