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Medical Ethics: Decision Making in a Professional Practice.

OVERVIEW

The terms "Ethics" and "Morals" are derived respectively from the Greek and Latin words for "customs, practices and rituals", and what ethicist Robert Bellal has called "the habits of the heart".

Although customs may appear to be superficial behaviors, they often reflect the society's deepest, conscious sense of right and wrong. Ethics as a discipline is the study and analysis of values and standards related to duty, responsibility and right and wrong behaviour.

The obligations that health care professionals have towards their patients, each other and society, derive from ethical values held by the Practitioners discipline and the larger community. Since the time of Hippocrates, some of the more important moral values in health care have included trust, respect for life, benefiting others, avoiding harm to others, confidentiality and collegiality. Reflection of ethical issues is an essential compliment to the professional's specialised knowledge and skills in meeting basic human needs.

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