Philosophical Medical Ethics
- By: Andrew N Papanikitas
The media have not been kind to the medical profession lately. The General Medical Council and BMA students have been quick to issue guidelines on ethical matters ranging from cheating at exams to euthanasia. Deluged from all sides by corporate condemnation and prescriptive guidance it is difficult to know what to read, and what it means, or where lofty guidelines meet real life. What should have been done does not always bear much resemblance to what was done. The core fact emerging from this whirlwind of papers and handbooks is that we must always be prepared to justify ourselves.
Raanan Gillon's Philosophical Medical Ethics was initially written as a series of articles in the BMJ, taking core principles from ethics and relating them to medical cases that had arisen in the media. An example is Baby Pearson, the handicapped neonate who was prescribed dihydrocodeine and nursing care, and “allowed to