We all have a role to play in society (or life in general) in order to fulfil responsibilities assigned to us be it in the workplace, at home or anywhere else where we get to interchange words with people. Now how we act upon situations comes with how we were taught, basically the good and bad ways of handling issues, whether trivial or not. Ethical deportment is what all career people should aim for and this essay seeks to talk through the role of ethics in a Medical Laboratory Science profession.
In accordance with Manuel Velasquez et al., (2010: January), ethics are a structure of moral principles that decide on how people make right and wrong decisions and what they are obliged to do based on the sake of society, integrity as well as courteous and impertinent conduct. Theorists today usually split up ethical theories into three widespread subject sectors: metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics.
Pollock (2002, p.27) defines metaethics as “a discipline that investigates the meaning of ethical systems and whether they are relative or are universal. And are self-constructed or are independent of human creation.” Metaethics seeks to understand the essence of ethical properties, statements and forming judgement logically basically looking into the interest or free will of society if not of self, origin and meaning of ethical principles.
Normative ethics implies what should be good or bad for the society, it deals with moral behaviour and what we ought to do, but also why we do things that in some occasions may appear illogical to what we think an ethical resolution would be (Pollock, 2007).
[bookmark: _Hlk37421409]Applied ethics deals with specific departments of human actions and to craft criteria for discussing issues that may arise from those departments, meaning , in order for an issue to be an applied ethical one , it has to have people who are for and against the issue at hand, it looks at controversial topics such as war and animal rights.
Ethics are extremely important for setting boundaries in the biomedical science department to determine limitations of what scientists can and cannot do, and the difference between what is right and wrong.
Autonomy: all people should be treated with respect regardless of their age, gender, culture or even social backgrounds. Everyone has rights and so do patients, if patients do not agree to a certain operational procedure to be done on them then one(lab scientists or physician) should fulfil (an obligation) to the patient’s self-directed requests to maintain integrity because patients have the final say and are bound to be included and updated about the procedure if they agree to go ahead with it. (Jane Runzheimer and Linda Johnson Larsen; basic principles of medical ethics; 2010)
Beneficence: ethical duty to act in patient’s best interests, not to harm but to help. It may interfere with the patient’s autonomy and society because all healthcare providers are bound to do what’s best for their patients based on their skills and knowledge but individually so due to patients having different health problems, their treatment should also differ to avoid unethical behaviour thus striving for net benefit( medical ethics 101, n.d)
Non-maleficence: a procedure should not cause damage to the patient involved or others in the society. If benefits outweigh the risks ( such as doing an abortion procedure which might lead to infertility in most cases) , a patient may then make an informed decision to continue with the procedure and take treatment (which might not work) or not. This all leads to the emotional state of the patient being impacted and therefore in some cases, doctors find difficulty in applying the “do no harm” principle successfully (medical ethics 101, n.d)
Justice: the postulation of justice compels us to equitably dispense benefits, risks, costs and resources. you should at all times be fair to patients and treat them equally be it with the provision of scarce resources( distributing the benefits and burdens of care across society) and treatment based on severity of symptoms, so that you can be able to justify your actions in every situation so as avoiding ethical dilemmas because treatment does not cover everyone and to each person according to quality (J Chiropr Med, 2011).
“Decisions about diagnosis, prognosis and treatment are frequently based on results and interpretations of laboratory tests. Irreversible harm may be caused by erroneous tests”, International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC), Module 16: Professional Ethics 2005; (who.int).
It is all based on one’s character, which includes honesty, accountability and discipline. Being honest means that you will not mislead people by giving out falsified test results and deceiving them because patients typically deal with health professionals that are trustworthy. Responsibility means that a person would undoubtedly turn up early for work and cover turnaround times (TAT) for tasks assigned and would be able to rectify mistakes. To complete important tasks, in time and to execute them well, one should be disciplined in order to be committed and dedicated , without possessing these it could simply mean the downfall of the laboratory that individual is based in and could potentially lose their job.
A pure scientist, simply observing medical phenomena, would have a pragmatic attitude about life, sickness, and death. Science needs an ethical framework to make it humane.
[bookmark: _Hlk37421687]we need ethics to uphold and maintain the dignity and respect for our professions so that there may be cooperation and respectful relationships with between lab scientists thus leading to good teamwork-being able to help each other out with tasks and being reliable. To maintain a culture of safety so that we can minimize harm to self and others during laboratory engagement. To preserve the state of confidentiality and maintain a clear conscience.
“science doesn’t occur without ethics. Medicine doesn’t occur without ethics, large corporations don’t occur without ethics, even capitalism doesn’t occur without ethics”, Mark Switzer, 12 December 2018. We basically need ethics to jumpstart our everyday lives regarding interactions to either start businesses or trust a physician with our health.
Without ethics everyone would more likely to be deceitful. Everyone might try to plunder others, rob others so that they can live a comfortable sumptuous life without worrying about looking out for each other, ‘UBUNTU’ would be a peculiar word if not doing. Results would be falsified, experiments would always go wrong, the level of harm would drastically increase in laboratories leading to them shutting down completely. It would be a little bit like what we’ve got now, in a way, just extremely worse.
To conclude the importance of ethics in the laboratory cannot be stressed enough. Building of good and long-lasting relationships between lab technicians, doctors and patients should be one of the main goals. Our actions and decisions should be mindful to how others view us. Everyone is fully responsible for their moral doings thus have a choice regardless of past encounters to either make a good or bad one and one can choose to ignore external influence going against their choice, especially evil influences.