This is my very first post. So I’ll use this post to tell readers why I started this blog and what I plan to do with it.
Medical practice today is facing the challenges to professional boundaries at one end and struggling with patient preference vs clinical authority at the other. How we balance the patient-centered care with the greater good of community often leaves us perplexed with an unanswered question…what we ‘ought’ to do?
Ethics involves the application of a moral code to the practice of medicine. As healthcare providers, it is important for us to be conscious of what we do and why we do it. This blog is an attempt to create discourse on common ethical issues faced by healthcare providers and patients alike. To learn as we discuss and share experiences with a common goal of providing best possible healthcare despite limited resources.
Let’s first review the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council’s Code of Ethics:
Duties of Dental and Medical Practitioners (International Code of Medical Ethics)
Drawing on the Declaration of Geneva, the WMA formulated a more detailed code of ethics which was approved by the 3rd Assembly of the WMA meeting in London in 1949. The International Code of Medical Ethics was subsequently amended in 1968 by the 22nd Assembly of the WMA in Sydney and again in 1983 by the 35th Assembly held in Venice. The text, as amended, reads as follows:
Duties of Physicians in General
A physician shall always maintain the highest standards of professional conduct and should actively participated in continuous Medical Education .
A physician shall not permit motives of profit to influence the free and independent exercise of professional judgement on behalf of patients.
A physician shall, in all type of medical practice, be dedicated to providing competent medical services in full technical and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity.
A physician shall deal honestly with patients and colleagues, and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.
The following practices are deemed to be unethical conduct:
- Self advertising by physicians, unless permitted by the laws of the country and the Code of Ethics of the Pakistan Medical Association.
- Paying or receiving any fee or any other consideration solely to procure the referral of a patient or for prescribing or referring a patient to any source.
A physician shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues, and of other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences.
A physician shall act only in the patient’s interest when providing medical care which might have the effect of weakening the physical and mental condition of the patient.
A physician shall use great caution in divulging discoveries or new techniques or treatment through non-professional channels.
A physician shall certify only that which he has personally verified.
Duties of Physicians to the Sick
A physician shall always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life.
A physician shall owe his patients complete loyalty and all the resources of his science.
Whenever an examination or treatment is beyond the physician’s capacity he should summon another physician who has the necessary ability.
A physician shall preserve absolute confidentiality on all he knows about his patient even after the patient has died.
A physician shall give emergency care as a humanitarian duty unless he is assured that others are willing and able to give such care.
Duties of Physicians to each other
A physician shall behave towards his colleagues as he would have them behave towards him.
A physician shall not entice patients from his colleagues.
A physician shall observe the principles of the “Declaration of Geneva” approved by the World Medical Association.