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The four principles of ethical action in health care

Respect for the autonomy of the patient:

The patient should not be influenced, but encouraged and informed in his or her freedom of choice. Every medical measure must be preceded by consent, which takes into account the patient's values, wishes and interests. Consent is given when the patient has been sufficiently informed, has understood the information, decides voluntarily, is capable of making a decision and actively gives his or her consent.


Prevention of harm:

Harm must be prevented to the patient. 


Harm should be prevented in the patient and, in addition, his or her well-being should be actively promoted. In order to determine useful measures, it is necessary to weigh up the benefits, harms and risks for the patient.



Benefits and burdens in the health care system should be fairly distributed, for example through the right to equal access to medical services.




Source: Beauchamp, Tom L; James F. Childress (2013): Principles of Biomedical Ethics. [1977] Seventh Edition. Oxford University Press. New York/London

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