chapter  25
10 Pages

Ethical and medico-legal aspects of assisted ventilation M A Branthwaite and J-P Garside

Four ethical principles 345

Legal basis for ethical decisions 346

Transgressing the law 349

Conclusions 351

References 352

Further reading 353

Ethics can be defined for practical purposes as the establishment of moral principles in circumstances where neither logic nor instinct provide universally acceptable solutions. The law is a framework of rules which regulate human conduct and are regarded as binding. Legal action can be used not only to enforce rules but also to develop them. One such development is the resolution of ethical conflicts created by advances in medicine, particularly those at the fringes of currently lawful behaviour. This chapter adopts a simplistic approach to the ethical principles of medical practice and considers how English law has been used to resolve ethical dilemmas and regulate professional decision-making.