Principlism (derived from common sense morality) is the most common theory used within the healthcare sphere. The elements of this theory are explored and discussed in context. A theoretical woman presenting in pregnancy is used to identify issues which can arise and explore the potential conflicts. In the second half of the chapter, health informatics and the law are discussed. Issues such as consent, confidentiality, privacy, and human rights are discussed in general. Legislation in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are discussed in detail.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy dealing with morality and medical ethics is that branch of ethics which deals with healthcare. Four of the most influential ethical theories are: deontology (which deals with duties), consequentialism (which deals in outcomes), virtue ethics (which concentrates on moral character) and feminist ethics (which puts all of the above into the context of caring compassion and relationships).