The code of ethics derived from the Hippocratic Oath needs to be supplemented by a formal curriculum in Medical Ethics and Medical Humanities in our Medical schools. The need and justification for it, a review of the medical ethics curricula in American. European. British and Australian Universities, together with an outline of the proposed curriculum is described.
SETTING: Medical ethics education has become common, and the integrated ethics curriculum has been recommended in Western countries. It should be questioned whether there is one, universal method of teaching ethics applicable worldwide to medical schools, especially those in non-Western developing countries.
OBJECTIVE: To characterise the medical ethics curricula at Asian medical schools.
DESIGN: Mailed survey of 206 medical schools in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 100 medical schools responded, a response rate of 49%, ranging from 23%-100% by country.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The degree of integration of the ethics programme into the formal medical curriculum was measured by lecture time; whether compulsory or elective; whether separate courses or unit of other courses; number of courses; schedule; total length, and diversity of teachers' specialties.
RESULTS: A total of 89 medical schools (89%) reported offering some courses in which ethical topics were taught. Separate medical ethics courses were mostly offered in all countries, and the structure of vertical integration was divided into four patterns. Most deans reported that physicians' obligations and patients' rights were the most important topics for their students. However, the evaluation was diverse for more concrete topics.
CONCLUSION: Offering formal medical ethics education is a widespread feature of medical curricula throughout the study area. However, the kinds of programmes, especially with regard to integration into clinical teaching, were greatly diverse.
Medical ethics issues encountered in rehabilitation medicine differ from those in an acute care setting due to the complex relationships among the parties involved in rehabilitative care. The study examined the attitudes of Malaysian rehabilitation doctors toward medical ethics issues commonly encountered during patient care.
Autonomy is widely accepted to be the third pillar of medical ethics. However, if it comes to refusal of life saving treatments, some extra considerations are necessary, especially if decisions are made by surrogate decision makers. Four cases of problematic decision making are presented here, followed by a discussion about the cultural and religious misconceptions about the rights of surrogate decision makers.
Consent is defined as the “voluntary agreement to or acquiescence in what another person proposes or desires”. In the context of medical practice it is now universally accepted that every human being of adult years and of sound mind has the right to determine what shall be done with his or her own body. Informed consent is now a central part of medical ethics and medical law. There has been a change in the public’s expectations of their role in medical decision making. The paternalistic approach by doctors is no longer acceptable. Today the patient has the right to receive and the doctor the obligation to give sufficient and appropriate information so that the patient can make an informed decision to accept or refuse a treatment option. This has led to higher standards of practice in the process of informed consent taking. Consent taking is both a legal and moral requirement. Failure to comply with standards of practice can result in criminal prosecution, civil litigation or disciplinary action by the relevant professional authority. Consent taking is a process and not merely a one-off affixation of the patient’s signature on consent form. It involves a continuous discussion to reflect the evolving nature of treatment from before the treatment is given to the post-operative or discharge period. The regulatory authorities in many countries have established standards for consent taking which would include the capacity of the patient, the person who should seek consent, the information to be provided and the necessary documentation.
The duty of confidentiality in the normal doctor-patient relationship is well recognized. However, the duty of confidentiality between the pathologist who performs the autopsy and the requesting authorities and the next-of-kin is not as clearly spelt out. This article discusses the problems faced by the pathologist with regards to hospital and medico-legal autopsies in Malaysia. A proposed ethical guideline is included on how to deal with peculiar issues regarding confidentiality and the pathologist.
The discovery and invention of new medical applications may be considered blessings to humankind. However, some applications which might be the only remedy for certain diseases may contain ingredients or involve methods that are not in harmony with certain cultural and religious perspectives. These situations have raised important questions in medical ethics; are these applications completely prohibited according to these perspectives, and is there any room for mitigation? This paper explores the concept of darurah (necessity) and its deliberation in the formulation of fatwas on medicine issued by the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia. Darurah has explicitly been taken into consideration in the formulation of 14 out of 45 fatwas on medicine thus far, including one of the latest fatwas regarding uterine donation and transplantation. These fatwas are not only limited to the issues regarding the use of unlawful things as remedies. They include issues pertaining to organ transplantation, management of the corpse and treatment of brain dead patients. While deliberation of darurah in medicine may vary from issue to issue, darurah applies in a dire situation in which there are no lawful means to prevent harm that may be inflicted upon human life. Nevertheless, other aspects must also be taken into the deliberation. For example, consent must be obtained from the donor or his next of kin (after his death) to conduct a cadaveric organ transplantation.
The developments in the technology of life support such as mechanical ventilators, dialysis machines and cardiovascular support techniques have provided the means of maintaining organ function for prolonged period of time. However, in many instances, such life-sustaining treatment in intensive care units did not result in desirable outcome where patients return to their normal state of health. Several ethical issues have surfaced from these medical advances mainly on the decision-making process, which physicians have to deal in their daily practice. Withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging treatments that allow patients to die naturally need to be differentiated from physician-assisted suicides and euthanasia that involves the active ending of life. The definition of life and death and the guiding ethical principles that one takes before embarking to a particular conclusion is a pre-requisite to good clinical practice. Islam, as a comprehensive religion provides clear definition of life and death and has guidelines that underlie its own ‘medical ethics’ that one could be guided by to assist in the decision-making process.
Doctor-patient relationship is a special kind of social. relationship where bonding is planned and carried out with the final objective of helping the patient to achieve the treatment goal. A positive therapeutic relationship encourages active participation of patient in the treatment plan, contributing to success of treatment goals and minimizing malpractice suits. The humanistic approach emphasizes the importance of love, belonging, self esteem, self expression and the final stage of self actualization-the drive to realize one's full potential. In person centered approach to therapeutic relationship, the three most fundamental elements are congruent (genuineness), unconditioned positive regards and empathy. In daily medical consultation, applying these elements can promote greater chance of success in the therapeutic process.
This report describes the ethical and legal aspects of assisted reproduction technology (ART) that have been instituted in Asian countries. The data were collected by a questionnaire circulated to ART units in Asia. These are Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Iran, India, Jordan, Malaysia, China, Israel, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Persian Gulf countries. According to the survey, there are approximately 260 ART centers in Asia (half of which are in Japan). On a global basis each ART centre in Asia serves an average population of 13 million people. On the other hand, in those Asian countries where the standards of living are relatively high, the availability of ART services, including the more sophisticated and costly ART procedures like micromanipulation, is similar to that in the Western world. In most of the Asian countries practising ART, however, no state registry exists. Taiwan is the only country that has specific legislation, and in six other countries some kind of ministerial regulations are practised. We conclude that ART is now practised in 20 countries in Asia. The prevailing rules and cultural heritage in many of these Asian countries has a major influence on the implementation of ART in Asia. However, in view of the complicated and sensitive issues involved, and as no supervision on ART clinics exists in most of the Asian countries, we advocate that some kind of quality control should be urgently instituted in all centres practising ART. In this way, it is hoped that the highest standards be attained for all parties concerned.
Due to globalizing trend of homogenisation of culture, changes in the health care delivery system and market economics infringing on the practice of medicine, there has been a gradual shift in the attitude of the medical community as well as the lay public towards greater acceptance of euthanasia as an option for terminally ill and dying patients. Physicians in developing countries come across situations where such issues are raised with increasing frequency. As the subject has gained worldwide prominence, we want to review this topic from Islamic perspective due to its significance in medical ethics and clinical practice.