Ethical Dilemma on Robotic Surgery and ACS Codes of Ethics – Post 1

Ethical Dilemma on Robotic Surgery – Post 1: In post one (1) students should provide an answer to the ethical dilemma through the lens of each of the ethical theories presented in lectures…

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Ethical Dilemma on Robotic Surgery and ACS Codes of Ethics – Post 1

Paper details

Requirements

This is an individual task. Students are required to write two (2) forum posts in moodle which provide an analysis of an ethical dilemma associated with robotic assisted surgery from a software developer’s perspective.

  • Post 1: In post one (1) students should provide an answer to the ethical dilemma through the lens of each of the ethical theories presented in lectures. These include utilitarianism, deontology, social contract theory, character-based ethics .

The post should be approximately two to three pages long (800-1200 words). It should contain a brief overview of each of the four ethical theories, and a discussion and proposed solution for the dilemma, from each of the four ethical theoretical viewpoints. The discussion should show an analysis and synthesis of research undertaken and your own ideas.

  • Post 2: In post two (2) students will apply ACS code of ethics 2 in order to solve the ethical dilemma. The post should be approximately one page long (300-500 words). The discussion should show an analysis and synthesis of research undertaken and your own ideas.

Each post should contain a bibliography containing authentic academic literature. Post 1 (approximately 6–10 references), and Post 2 (approximately 4–8 references). Gather these references from various sources such as the Internet, assigned textbooks and readings etc. For assistance with in-text referencing and formatting your reference list in APA format, see the link to General Guide to Referencing provided.

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1 Select two (2) virtues

2 Select one (1) ACS element

Page 2

CRICO

Solution

Ethical Dilemma on Robotic Surgery

Ethical theories offer frameworks that guide decision making in the face of ethical dilemmas. The four fundamental ethical theories include utilitarianism, deontology, social contract theory, and character-based ethics. Understanding the frameworks facilitates effective and consistent application and justification of decisions in line with existing legal and ethical frameworks.

Outline of theory

Utilitarianism attempts to identify the best action that maximizes utility. The valuation of Utility is obtained by the total amount of hedons and dolors or rather good and evil. These concepts relate in such a way that the more hedons add up, the more right the action will be. Therefore the moral aspects of utilitarianism denote that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good, and the only intrinsic goods are pleasure or happiness (Singer, 1972).

Deontology, on the other hand, presupposes that all moral rules come to us as a result of being rational. Also known as Kantianism, the theory is expounded through the formula of humanity which upholds that humans should to treat others never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.

The social contract theory upholds that an individuals’ moral obligations are founded on the contract that brings together the society. Hence, the social contract theory upholds that morality is the accumulation of rules acceptable to rational people as long as they are accepted by others.

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Character-based ethics also known as virtue ethics upholds that human have a fixed nature and need to possess and nature virtues to guide character and behavior. In the theory virtues are understood to be the character traits that promote the well-being of the person who has them (Introduction to Ethical Theory, pg. 148). These traits occur to human being due to the ability to reason, and virtue requires choice, understanding, and knowledge.

Discussion

With the advent of technology into different parts and aspects of human life such as healthcare, ethical dilemmas related to safety, quality and respect of the dignity of human life are bound to arise. The utilization of robotics in surgery has significantly reduced human errors, and improve the outcomes of surgeries especially in highly intricate cases (Ferrarese et al., 2016). However, the risks of injury due to malfunctions are catastrophic and could be fatal.

Stahl, & Coeckelbergh, (2016) deliberate on the ethical concerns and classify the risks associated with robotic surgery as a result of human-robot interactions specifically on liability and responsibility. Easton (2013) argues that the assignation of responsibility in the case of an incident, is infused in layers of liabilities that may distribute blame to designers, programmers, medical staff and even the patient as the end-user.

While these issues persist in the different areas of robotic application, their application within medical ethics narrows down to the levels of negligence and the harm caused. Easton (2013) suggests that the creators and manufacturers could be held negligent through both a failure to take proper care and a failure to warn. As such, the robotics used in surgery should be approached as any other manufactured product and liability apportioned according to the principles of negligence.

Rozbruch (2018) also explores the litigations with robotic surgery and argues that litigation associated with robotic surgery utilizes both medical malpractice law and products liability law, though the two are completely separate. The presupposition is in line with McLean (2007) who acknowledges that patients injured during a robotic surgery can hold the telecommunication company liable for the outcomes. These discussions shed light on the ethical dilemma within the confines of the law and medical regulations.

Application and Recommendations

The ethical dilemma can be approached from a utilitarian perspective to signal that the systems developed to perform and support robotic surgery are highly effective and successful in most cases. The IT professional hence does more good than evil, and with the end being a high rate of successful robotic surgeries, hence limiting the liabilities on IT professionals.

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On the contrary, applying deontology ethics to the dilemma would mean that IT professional have to act rationally and ensure that the systems are accurate before any application. The principle would hold the IT professional ethically responsible for any issue pertaining to the accuracy of the system as the protection of human life is fundamental regardless of the success rate of the system (Usluoğulları, Tıplamaz, & Yaycı, 2017).

On virtues ethics, IT professionals are also held accountable for the accuracy of the robotics they program for surgery. The principle guides that it is imperative to promote and sustain the inherent good as an individual as a means of promoting the well-being of people in the society.

The most applicable principle is that of social contract theory. Within the framework, IT professionals are bound by contraction laws embedded in legal frameworks and industrial regulations on the level of negligence. On this perspective, the extent of liability is defined by the law and industry regulations.

The best approach to determine the extent of ethical liability is through accepted industry standards. By utilizing the approach, each professional understands the standards of practice and works towards maintaining and sustaining high levels of accuracy per industry standards. The use of industry set standards on liability ensures consistency in the application of the law in addressing issues of liability.

References

  • Easton, C. (2013). Carry on Automat(r) on: Legal and Ethical Issues relating to Healthcare Robots. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.scl.org/articles/2811-carry-on-automat-r-on-legal-and-ethical-issues-relating-to-healthcare-robots
  • Ferrarese, A., Pozzi, G., Borghi, F., Pellegrino, L., Di Lorenzo, P., Amato, B., Santangelo, M., Niola, M., Martino, V., & Capasso, E. (2016). Informed consent in robotic surgery: quality of information and patient perception. Open medicine (Warsaw, Poland), 11(1), 279–285. https://doi.org/10.1515/med-2016-0054
  • McLEAN, T. (2007). The complexity of litigation associated with robotic surgery and cybersurgery. The International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery, 3(1), 23-29.
  • Rozbruch, L. (2018). Litigation & Robotic Surgery: Product Liability or Medical Malpractice?. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.pulj.org/the-roundtable/litigation-robotic-surgery-product-liability-or-medical-malpractice
  • Singer, P. (1972). Famine, affluence, and morality. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 229-243.
  • Stahl, B. C., & Coeckelbergh, M. (2016). Ethics of healthcare robotics: Towards responsible research and innovation. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 86, 152-161.
  • Usluoğulları, F. H., Tıplamaz, S., & Yaycı, N. (2017). Robotic surgery and malpractice. Turkish journal of urology, 43(4), 425–428. https://doi.org/10.5152/tud.2017.59013

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