Doctor’s Digest®

Bridging the gap…between the business of medicine and the practice of medicine.

November / December 2008: Ethics in Medicine

Ethics in Medicine

With the art and honor of practicing medicine comes responsibility for the health and well-being of one’s fellow man. That’s why 98 percent of medical schools in the United States still administer some form of the Hippocratic Oath to graduating doctors.

But, not surprisingly, today’s physicians face some different challenges from those outlined by Hippocrates 24 centuries ago. The original version of the Oath makes no reference, understandably, to reimbursement, conflicts of interest, malpractice, distribution of resources, or access to care for the poor or uninsured.

Today’s ethical situations are not cut and dried. As Faith Fitzgerald MD, assistant dean of humanities and bioethics at the University of California-Davis points out: “Good versus bad is easy. Good versus good—that’s ethics. There will be times when you are facing right versus right, and you will be torn.”

This guide does not address such important bioethics issues as genetictesting, organ donation, and physician-assisted suicide. Instead, it attemptsto offer a perspective on common ethical conflicts that arise in practice.

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