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medical ethics


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The branch of applied ethics relating to moral behaviour and judgments in medical practice and clinical research. History suggests that healers have always been concerned with ethical questions: evidence can be seen in the Hippocratic oath and other ancient codes. In the 19th century, medical ethics and professional codes were largely preoccupied with matters of etiquette rather than great moral questions. Currently medical ethics is seen to involve both discussion of complex moral issues in medicine and the negotiation of professional standards. Some commentators believe that medical ethics should cease to be treated as a separate discipline, preferring instead the term ‘health-care ethics’ as a better reflection of multidisciplinary-team-based clinical care in the 21st century NHS. Medical ethics remains to many a subspecialty of bioethics and is taught in all medical schools in the UK as an essential part of a professional training. See also clinical ethics, feminist ethics, public health ethics, publication ethics, virtue ethics.

http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/a_z_guidance/guidance_list/list_a.asp A–Z of ethical guidance from the website of the General Medical Council


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