Ethical Ramifications of Medicine and Psychiatry in Cyberspace
The proliferation of the Internet over the past several years has led to entirely new ways to conduct many of the necessary activities of everyday life in a hectic society, such as banking, shopping, catching up on the day’s events, and the like - Ethical Ramifications of Medicine and Psychiatry in Cyberspace introduction. As this surge in technology has increased, the use of the Internet for medical and psychiatric services has become popular as well. In this paper, the researcher will discuss the ethical ramifications of medicine and psychiatry in cyberspace; upon conclusion of this paper, the reader will have a broader understanding of this sometimes controversial subject. Doctor. Com” The title of this section of the paper is not an endorsement for a Website specifically, but rather the heading to indicate that the use of the Internet for medical purposes, such as pharmaceuticals, general medical advice, and the actual consultation of patients by doctors, has risen significantly in recent years. With this boom in mind, the question emerges of whether or not this is ethical? There appears to be no one answer that will apply in all situations; rather, it is dependant upon various factors and the situation in which the Internet is medically used.
As an example, if an individual seeks general medical information online, and it is used as a reference and not a substitute for the services of an actual medical professional, most people would agree that this would not pose a problem; however, there are some ethical issues that need to be considered even in the case of fact finding. A key consideration is whether or not the information is from a reliable source, such as a leading medical school or publication, an organization that specializes in information about a given topic, and so forth. Particular caution ust be taken to avoid disreputable or outright incorrect information dispensed online (Net Advice for Your Ailments……,2001). If blind faith is taken in a Website without making sure the information is accurate, the results could be deadly. Something that is ethically questionable according to most sources is the widespread existence of “online pharmacies” that will dispense often dangerous drugs on the Internet without an examination or prescription from a doctor who has examined the patient in person; this, too can cost the patient their life if done with lack of proper discretion.
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It is morally reprehensible that an online pharmacist would dispense controlled substances in such a way, but it is happening more and more all of the time. In fairness, however, within the proper context, medical information and some services can be offered in cyberspace in a morally correct fashion. Psychiatry Online Just as individuals log on to the Internet to seek treatment and advice for physical ailments, they also seek the same in the case of emotional infirmities.
Online psychiatry has become a highly lucrative business for many therapists, who prefer this type of interaction with patients because they can efficiently serve the needs of more patients, reduce overhead costs associated with running a brick and mortar office, and bill patients instantly for the services received (Gross, 2002). However, is this type of psychiatry moral? This question has complex dimensions just as the medical question poses.
There is one school of thought regarding cyber-psychiatry that holds that the anonymous nature of the Internet allows the patient to be more communicative about their problems and phobias as they do not have to fear embarrassment or criticism in a face to face encounter with a therapist, while others maintain that it is virtually impossible to evaluate a psychiatric patient without being able to physically observe their movements, facial expressions, etc. therefore making it morally outrageous to even begin to attempt to conduct online therapy and expect any sort of effective results. The moral outrage increases when the consideration that a patient who is potentially a threat to themselves or others cannot be monitored to prevent undesirable events taking place, which in theory could lead to an increase in homicides and suicides by mentally disturbed individuals.
One area that has been praised regarding online psychiatry is in the case of self-help groups for the disabled, many of whom cannot physically travel to a group session due to physical limitations; while this can be seen as a nice gesture for these people, a moral issue arises in the consideration of whether or not these people are being disserved in a time when they are most vulnerable (Finn, 1999). Online Imposters
Undoubtedly, the anonymity of the Internet makes the morally disturbing act of posing as a qualified medical or psychiatric service provider a distinct possibility. Without being able to verify the credentials of the person, or to indeed know that they are who they claim to be, a dangerous game is being played with one’s wellbeing. In this case, the lack of morality is evident and appalling. Conclusion
In closing, a fair an accurate argument can be made that while some online resources for medicine and psychiatry are morally acceptable, there are also cases where the advantage that is being taken is morally disgusting. Therefore, in closing, it needs to be understood that these services in cyberspace cannot be totally disqualified as immoral, but need to be monitored to protect people from those that are.