Ethical Issues Principles and Concepts
As a Catholic health care provider, the SCL Health System is concerned with the spiritual, psychosocial, emotional, and medical wellbeing of all those we serve. This includes those who come to us for care, their families, and the communities in which we are located, as well as our associates.
These Ethics pages offer guidance to those who seek a better understanding of the ethical issues that can arise in the delivery of health care, and assistance in making ethical health care decisions.
A document critical to this understanding comes from the bishops of the United States. The Ethical And Religious Directives For Catholic Health Care Services (The ERDs) express how Catholic teaching informs a variety of health care issues, and guides us in responding to them in a manner that respects the dignity of each human person, while maintaining and promoting the mission and identity of Catholic health care. As new technologies bring new ethical dilemmas, the ERDs may be updated, but the essential teachings on which they are based will not change.
This Ethics section provides information about the principles of Catholic teaching, as well as about common issues in health care and their ethical dimensions. In addition, cases are included which illustrate the relationship between these issues and principles.
If questions remain, or if you would like further, more in-depth discussion of any ethical issue, contact SCLHS, 303-813-5190.
This Ethics document is also available as printable PDF file using Adobe Acrobat. If you do not already have an Adobe Acrobat Reader, download a free copy now from Adobe Acrobat.
I. List of Key Ethical Principles
Principle of Respect for Autonomy
Principle of Beneficence
Principle of the Common Good
Principle of Double Effect
Principle of Human Dignity
Principle of Informed Consent
Principle of Non-Maleficence
Principle of Proportionate and Disproportionate Means
II. List of Key Ethical Issues
Benefits and Burdens
Best Interest Standard
Burden and Benefit
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Health Care Directives
Medical Treatment and Basic Care
Medically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration (AN&H)
Ordinary and Extraordinary Means
Organ Donation and Transplantation
Permanent or Persistent Vegetative State (PVS)
Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS)
Standard of Substituted Judgment
Surrogate Decision Making
Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment
Find further Links about these ethical issues, principles and concepts.