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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2008 December;128(4):157-64
The medical deontological code:a tool of public relevance that outlines the duties of the professional. A reflection on the code of conduct and on the moral, that is on the ethics of the medical activities
Libero professionista, Cava de’ Tirreni (SA)
Though deriving from the power of self government and regulation of a single professional association, the code of practice gains in public importance and becomes a tool to assess the existence of any defect in the professional’s conduct, either regarding the professional roll or not. Nevertheless, the recent publication of a revised edition arises once again some doubts both on the relativity and the historic contextualisation of the principles stated in the code and on some aspects of the so-called “secular ethics” borrowed from the global society. This article presents a reflection on what the doctor should identify as the value of his own activity and on the value and the meaning of that ethical view called “secular ethics”, which informs and permeates most of the code of practice. Furthermore, particular attention to whether adhering to the laity’s vision of ethics is either fundamental for the doctor’s behavior or if it deprives him of “moral autonomy” and ethical view is paid. Indeed, in today’s deontological code the problems of the individual conscience are confused with the “rights” of the citizen. The “citizen” is not a “patient” anymore and the “codification” of the relationship between himself and the professional is pursued as it was a demand issued by the judicial law. This would lead to the pre-establishment of an ideological tool that permits, for instance, to justify at the same time the “global” protection of the health and of the integrity of the citizen together with the “clinical management”, i.e. “the aid clinical practice based on the Ebm, as well as the adherence to the errors prevention and management programs in the health service”. Constantly referring to the regulatory importance of the code, one would forget that under its etymological meaning “deontology” only concerns with the professional’s duties, that “ethics” and “moral” are not synonymous, and that the conduct of the professional as global expression of his being and behavior should descend from the ethical principles.