Ethical Considerations in Assistive Technologies
Beauchamp and Childress (2001, p. 78) observe that the use of technology in the treatment and management of dementia is widespread. One such technology is assistive technology which is being used to provide medical solutions and services. Sommerville (2003) indicates that its potential can be misused. Ethically, the wishes of users of assistive medical technology are often ignored. Hence, beneficence is a vital practice even while conducting such research studies. In other words, the welfare of participants is crucial during empirical research studies. Areas of ethical concerns as listed in the article by Beauchamp and Childress (2001) focus on the types of telecare devices that are used for monitoring since they affect privacy and installation of devices without the consent of dementia patients. Such a practice does not serve in rightful justice to patients who need care. In the case of Sally who is 42 years, she experiences a lot of fatigue and therefore needs to be advised accordingly on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. is also another ailment that cannot allow Sally to walk freely. This implies that her autonomy is not guaranteed. Hence, being close to assistive technology is the best option for Sally. However, she should use technology until full recovery and thereafter resort to normal life.
Assistive technology is an advancement in modern medicine. It is used to offer personal care and mobility in a manner that enhances the ability of a patient to perform normal duties. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that ethical considerations are adhered to strictly to on patients. Researchers agree that most patients with dementia or those who are mentally challenged often experience reduced ability to determine what to do at any specific time. As such, there is a need for adequate planning when the capacities of patients are restricted. Loughlin (2002, p. 103) argues that patients have a right to understand the options available for their treatment and if possible, whether they are willing to use the technology.
From an ethical point of view, analysts have indicated their concerns in the matter in which this service is provided. According to rights theory, an individual should be able to enjoy specific autonomy that arises from his or her status. In modern medicine, the principle of autonomy calls for respect of choice and privacy. Hughes and Baldwin (2006, p. 309) point out that although assistive technology is helpful, it infringes on patients rights. Even if the device is designed to act in the best interest of a patient, monitoring affects an individuals privacy and may not be justified.
According to Barnes (2006, p. 320), the use of assistive technology presents several limitations owing to lack of safety. Notably, most dementia patients who use assistive technology cannot be able to make the such an involving issue. By analyzing Barnes argument from this point of view, it is clear that little focus is usually given to the safety of patients who move during the night. A door sensor might act as a security tool but cannot solve the problem of searching for social contact. Is there an alternative? Can it be replaced with human assistance to aid those wishing to go out at night? The technology should not be used as a quick fix for dementia patients because it may lead to maleficence (Lowe 2009, p. 1080). Alternative approaches that factor in the wishes, needs, and abilities of persons with dementia ought to be considered. For a patient like a sally, it is only the assistive technology that can guarantee and . Besides, employing assistive technology requires the users living arrangements to be put into consideration. Apart from personal motivations and preferences, Sommerville (2003, p. 284) is of the view that the needs of a patient, caregivers as well as family members are critical in ensuring that assistive devices work perfectly well to ensure non-maleficence and Justice at all times.