Medical Ethics

Medical ethics is a subject of increasing importance as medicine becomes more complex and costly, and it encompasses situations we are faced with and decisions we have to make every single day.

These decisions are not always about life and death, but they are all important and can affect the quality of life and relationships and care, of ourselves, each other and of our patients.

Medical ethics as currently taught focusses on reason and logic, and attempts to make scientific, objective sense of medical problems and human nature and human behaviour.

But we are imperfect and unpredictable beings who hold differing ideals, beliefs, cultural and religious values as well as simple personal opinions, which can influence the way we see and feel about life, including our medical care.

As doctors, it is up to us to live with integrity and responsibility, forever developing our understanding of ourselves and others. When we honestly reflect on our own values, beliefs and ideals and deal with our own personal biases and shortcomings, we are greater equipped for the difficult decisions we are sometimes called to make in our practice of medicine.

In essence, we are all the same at heart, and if we treat each other with the love and care we afford our loved ones, and that we would like for ourselves, we will go a long way to dealing with the challenges in medicine together.

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Latest Articles on Medical Ethics

Photo of Dr FIona Williams for article by Dr Fiona Williams on "Physician Heal Thyself"

The Contagion of Fear – the Coronavirus Pandemic and Medicine

We are currently in the grip of a worldwide panic over COVID-19, or 2019-nCoV, the novel coronavirus pandemic. As I write, supermarkets are being stripped...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

When the “S” Word Is Unspoken

Note: this is a highly disguised story for reasons that will be immediately obvious. I got an invitation a few months ago to give a...

Fitting in – is it really worth it?

Have you ever considered how often you do things just to fit in, to go along with friends or family, even though you feel...

6000 signatures: doctors call for the release of children held in off-shore detention centres

Many in the Australian medical profession would endorse the views of Dr Karen Phelps, GP, past president of the AMA and newly elected independent...

Evidence Based Medicine and complementary therapies – can they work together?

Evidence based medicine and complementary therapies may seem uneasy bedfellows, but this does not mean we should not explore how they may be effectively...

Wounded healers

It’s a late Friday evening in New York and Dr Michael Myers is finishing up the paperwork for his last patient as he takes...


Once again, Australian state parliaments are debating the issue of euthanasia – this time in Victoria and NSW. If the legislation is passed in...
Raindrops on screen photo by Alan Johnston for article on Mandatory Reporting by Dr Anne Malatt

Mandatory Reporting: it’s part of the problem, not the answer

Mandatory reporting, or forcing doctors to report to the relevant authorities if one of their colleagues comes to them for help and is deemed...
pills & money for article on doctors & pharmaceutical companies by Dr Jane Barker

Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies – can we co-exist in an ethical way?

We would all agree that Medicine is about caring, about alleviating suffering. At its best, it has been renowned for its morality, its ethics,...
The sun rises and sets for an article by Dr Jane Barker on Dying at Home

Dying at home – the last gift a doctor can give their patient

Yesterday I sat with my friend of 30 years in her garden, marvelling at the beauty of a deep royal red geranium. She has...
Bullying In Medicine

Bullying – Alive and Well in Medicine

In 2015 Dr. Gabriele McMullin, a vascular surgeon, went public with stories of the bullying she had experienced as a surgical trainee, and bullying...
Doctor Jane Barker

Flaws in the System are Killing Young Doctors

In February this year a young Sydney doctor wrote: “In the year it has taken to complete my training as a junior doctor 3 of...
Doctor Anne Malatt

Why are doctors killing themselves?

Doctors are generally acknowledged to be intelligent. We are trained to care for the human body, and are considered the experts on it and...