Ethics: Dismembering the ethical physician

I couldn't resist the title of this article just published in the April issue of Postgraduate Medical Journal:

Genuis SJ. Ethics: Dismembering the ethical physician. Postgrad Med J 2006;82:233-238.

Abstract: Physicians may experience ethical distress when they are caught in difficult clinical situations that demand ethical decision making, particularly when their preferred action may contravene the expectations of patients and established authorities. When principled and competent doctors succumb to patient wishes or establishment guidelines and participate in actions they perceive to be ethically inappropriate, or agree to refrain from interventions they believe to be in the best interests of patients, individual professional integrity may be diminished, and ethical reliability is potentially compromised. In a climate of ever-proliferating ethical quandaries, it is essential for the medical community, health institutions, and governing bodies to pursue a judicious tension between the indispensable regulation of physicians necessary to maintain professional standards and preserve public safety, and the support for "freedom of conscience" that principled physicians require to practise medicine in keeping with their personal ethical orientation.

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One Response

  1. The abstract concludes “In a climate of ever-proliferating ethical quandaries, it is essential for the medical community, health institutions, and governing bodies to pursue a judicious tension between the indispensable regulation of physicians necessary to maintain professional standards and preserve public safety, and the support for “freedom of conscience” that principled physicians require to practise medicine in keeping with their personal ethical orientation.”

    As a former chairman of a state chiropractic board, I have seen too many doctors follow “their own personal ethical orientation” without regards for the “the indispensable regulation of physicians necessary to maintain professional standards and preserve public safety.” Contravention of board regulations, even when they do not match the doctor’s “personal ethical orientation” is a sure path to professional destruction.

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