Jaqualine Lindridge
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 9, Iss. 4, 07 Apr 2017, pp 158 - 163

To ensure morally justified decisions, clinicians are encouraged to apply ethical
theories and frameworks. Beauchamp and Childress' 'Four Principles' approach to
medical ethics, or 'Principlism' for short, is highly regarded as a simple methodology
for considering ethical dilemmas, and is common to many undergraduate clinical
programmes. On occasion, ethical dilemmas are complex and one or more of the
four principles come into conflict with each other. Critics of the approach have
suggested that there is a lack of guidance on how to resolve this conflict.

This paper will argue that principlism facilitates an organised and thorough
method of reflecting upon an ethical problem and is well suited to the pre-hospital
setting. The problem of how to resolve conflicts between the principles will be
explored, demonstrating the merit of the approach through its application to a
real-life moral problem from the pre-hospital setting.

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