By: Afaal, MD
Patients are entitled to good doctors. Good doctors make the care of patients their first concern; they are competent, keep their knowledge and skills up to date, establish and maintain good relationships with patients and colleagues, are honest and trustworthy and act with integrity.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA) the medical profession has subscribed to a body of ethical standards primarily for the benefit of the patients. As a member of the profession, any clinician should recognize responsibility first and foremost to the patients, and then to the society, other health professionals and to self. Along this ethical guidance, in many countries, codes of professional conduct are developed to ensure that beneficial practices are carried out across all practitioners.
The Code describes what is expected of all doctors. It sets out the principles that characterize good medical practice and the standards of ethical and professional conduct are made more explicit. In countries where there is high compliance to these standards, well-established legal and regulatory mechanisms in healthcare are also in place.
Irrespective of the existence of such a code or legal framework, clinicians already, historically, take an oath, the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. This of course could be the basis of the modern developments.
I will prescribe regimes for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone.Â (part of the Hippocratic oath, 12th century)
So the patient is at the forefront even then. And today, the new versions of the oath and standards and guidelines all revolve around the patient.
Coming to a state where there is minimal medical regulations and literally no laws to govern the profession and its practice, in the Maldives, the need for these developments are immense. Indeed, professionals,Â institutions and individuals can take initiatives to change the existing culture. It is very easy to declare that nothing is there, but to put an effort to develop proper Codes is what is needed. Of course, the legal process of a healthcare act is on the bench, but when these legal frameworks are made, the sensitivities and specificities of the community in which it will be practiced will also have to be looked into. Such regulations and legislation should aim to mutually protect both the patient and the provider.
In the Maldives, the change process can happen concurrently. While the Laws are being developed, guidelines and codes can also be developed. The Maldives Medical Council and the healthcare providers together can play an important role to ensure that these practices are made the norm in the country.
Here at ADK Hospital, we believe that we cannot wait hoping that these documents and practices will be developed, but rather, we believe that we can we can set these standards in the country. It is with this aim, the Hospital has developed a Code of Professional Conduct that has been issued and put to practice at the Hospital. The standards in the Code sets out principles in relation to a practitionerâs
- Clinical competence and performance
- Professional and ethical obligations
- Relationships with colleagues and
- Probity in professional practice
It is now expected that all doctors practicing in the Hospital to follow this code. This will also be used as part of the performance assessment of clinicians in the future.
It is noteworthy that this code was developed based on a set of guidelines adapted from the Australian and New Zealand Codes with the permission from the Australian Medical Council, the New South Wales Medical Board and the Medical Council of New Zealand.