Code of Professional Ethics for Physicians
The medical practitioner has responsibilities to the patient, the society, other health professionals as well as to him/herself.
The concerns most often highlighted are the patient and physician relationship, the conduct and practice of the physician, conflicts of interest, professional relations and societal responsibilities.
All codes of conduct are built on ethical foundations. In this case:
1. Patient-physician Relationship
a. Beneficence . . . the welfare of the patient is central.
b. Non-malfeasance – “primum non nocerce” (first, do no harm).
c. Autonomy – respect for the right of patients to make choices.
d. Justice – avoidance of discrimination on the basis of rule, colour, religion or national origin.
2. Physicians’ Conduct and Practice
a. Veracity. Always tell the truth. Do not ever represent yourself in any communications that could be considered untruthful, misleading or deceptive.
b. Maintain medical competence
i. Study ii. Application iii. Enhance skill
c. Behaviour must not diminish capability to practice optimally. Questionable conduct or unethical behaviour will be investigated.
3. Conflicts of Interest require public disclosure
Our most important role is that of patient advocates. Physicians are obligated to recognize conflicts of interest and deal with them through public disclosures.
The patient interest is paramount. Autonomy of patient is fundamental.
If not resolved, withdraw from patient care. Do no commercial promotion of medical products and services that will generate bias, create or appear to create undue influence. All treatment offered must be based solely on medical considerations and patients’ needs.
Gifts of substantial value from health care companies demand disclosure.
4. Professional Relationship
Respect and cooperate with:
· Other Physicians
· Other Health Care Professionals
Patients must be aware of the financial requirements of their care before treatment.
Other healthcare professionals must reflect fairness, honesty, integrity, mutual respect and concerns for patients.
To provide the best care for the patient, consult, refer and cooperate with others as necessary.
It is incumbent on you to report to the appropriate authority, unethical or illegal behaviour by impaired physicians.
5. Societal Responsibilities
All physicians are required to uphold the dignity and honour of the profession. They must contribute to:
· Societal enhancement
· The support for and participation in all public concerns for the advancement of the human family.
· Ensure the respect for the laws that govern society.
6. Patient-Physician Relationship
· The central focus of all ethical concerns.
· The welfare of the patient IS the basis of all medical judgements.
· As a patient advocate, physicians must exercise all reasonable means to ensure appropriate care.
· Relationships are built on trust, confidentiality, honesty.
· The physician may only refuse to give the care if there is no physician/patient relationship, except in emergencies.
· Either patient or physician is free to discontinue relationship but the physician should first establish alternate continuing care.
7. Sexual misconduct is an abuse of professional power and a violation of patient trust.
8. A romantic relationship between physician and patient is unethical.
9. Informed consent
a) Obligation to informed consent includes knowledge that Terms are understandable.
Pertinent medical facts and recommendations must be consistent with good medical care.
b) Alternate modes to be presented.
c) Objectives, risks, benefits, possible complications and anticipated results are to be discussed
It is unethical to prescribe, provide or seek compensation FOR THERAPIES OF NO BENEFIT TO THE PATIENT.
10. Always respect the rights of patients and colleagues.
11. Patient confidences: the patient must give consent for the information to be divulged.
PHYSICIAN CONDUCT & PRACTICE
1. All medics must recognize the boundaries of their expertise and provide only those for which they are qualified by education, training and experience.
2. Participate in continuing medical education to enhance knowledge and competence.
3. Protect patient welfare in new emerging therapies.
4. Never publicize or represent yourself in an untruthful, misleading or deceptive manner to patients, public or other health care professionals.
5. The HIV Positive physician should inform all patients.
6. The impaired physician, with alcohol, drugs, mental, emotional or physical disability, should not practice medicine until the impairment no longer affects the quality of patient care.
Be guided by the “golden rule”. Pay attention to standards, objectivity, competence and the science of medicine.