Patient Welfare as an Ethical Standard for Hospital Care

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Published: 5 April 2016

For decades, hospital care has been the object of controversial political debates. These are sparked, for example, by the general development of costs in healthcare, by innovations in medicine, by patients’ changed expectations and by demographic development. Rising economic pressure, especially on the hospital sector, increasingly raises questions about the guiding normative standard of hospital care.

The German Ethics Council centres its deliberations on patient welfare as the crucial ethical guiding principle. Three dimensions of outstanding relevance to patient welfare are examined: patient autonomy, quality of treatment and distributive justice. The German Ethics Council presents 29 recommendations for anchoring and ensuring the orientation towards patient welfare in hospital care. These include specific improvements regarding communication, documentation, digitalisation and accessibility.