Ethics is concerned with right and wrong behavior in our relationships as interdependent people who respect one another.
It is a human activity concerned with right and wrong, and what "ought" be done in situations concerned with human values and the interest of other people. It involves "reason" and yet cannot avoid the use of emotions or feelings.
Some different (but related) branches of ethics include:
- clinical bioethics: what should govern clinical decisions and what is a "good" outcome to strive for;
- professional bioethics: professional codes of ethics guide the individual professional in accordance with the standards accepted by members of that profession;
- institutional ethics: how institutions should make decisions, the environmental responsibility that a health care institution has;
- relational ethics: what guides behavior between people in shared patient/professional relationships.
Briggs M et al. A handbook of healthcare ethics and institutional ethics for staff in healthcare institutions. Edmonton. The Bioethics Centre. 1994. p. A:3.