The principle of autonomy is generally given the utmost attention in healthcare practice. It is expressed as the right of competent adults to make informed decisions about their medical care. It requires a health professional to discuss all available treatment options with the patient and be respectful of their decisions, provided that they are autonomous and not forced. When the principle of autonomy is put at the forefront, the other three principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice are given less consideration in decision-making.
According to the Christian narrative, the main goal of health professionals is to show mercy and the peace of God to their patients. Each person’s life is valuable, irrespective of one’s physical and mental state (Winright, 2020). It means that the principles of beneficence and justice are regarded as the most essential. A doctor or nurse should provide equal care to all individuals and do what is good for them. The principle of nonmaleficence, which requires one not to cause harm, is also important. The principle of autonomy is adhered to only if it does not violate the other three values, meaning that the patient’s decisions are respected only if they are not harmful (Winright, 2020). A health professional cannot violate God’s will of preserving each person’s life even if the patient themselves is willing to refuse treatment or end their life.
I, personally, think that the principles of autonomy and beneficence are the most important in health care. A doctor needs to act in the person’s interests and with respect for their will. If a patient’s autonomous decision is not made for their benefit, the doctor still needs to respect it, provided that the patient has substantive reasons for it. Nonmaleficence is the third-important principle, and justice is the fourth one because they can be derived from the principles of beneficence and autonomy.
Winright, T. (2020). T&T Clark Handbook of Christian ethics. Bloomsbury Publishing.