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Medical Ethics


Introduction to Medical Ethics

Medical ethics refer to the principles and standards of conduct that define the essentials of honorable behavior for the physician.

Principles of Medical Ethics

I. A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.

II. A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional interactions, and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in fraud or deception, to appropriate entities.

III. A physician shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.

IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences and privacy within the constraints of the law.

V. A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.

VI. A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical care.

VII. A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.

VIII. A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.

IX. A physician shall support access to medical care for all people.

(American Medical Association)

Medical Ethics and the Holocaust

The Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust (MIMEH) describes the need for health care professionals to understand the lessons from the Holocaust that apply to medical ethics today:

To say that the Holocaust was an instance of "medicine gone mad" is to ignore the moral beliefs that allowed those sworn to the Hippocratic tenet of healing to become killers. The significance of fostering a personal and professional ethos that values the protection of human rights and the central principles of bioethics first and foremost cannot be overstated. Exploring the experiences of medicine preceding and during the Holocaust can help inform current and future medical policymakers and practitioners. Using this singular example of medically sanctioned genocide as a foundation for the development of moral decision making emphasizes the relevance of "reflecting on the past to protect the future" by instilling the absolute necessity of putting human life and dignity ahead of scientific progress and political expediency. 

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